Shirish B Pradhan
Kathmandu, Jan 13 (PTI) Maoists, who are set to stakeclaim to form a new government in Nepal, have dismissedreports that India is their "principal enemy", but highlightedthe need to regulate the open border with the neighbouringcountry and favoured visas for Indian visitors.
"We are ready to consider India''s genuine securityconcerns," said senior Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai, whilestressing the need to "regulate the open border so thatcriminals and terrorists do not indulge in activities" thatwould go against the interests of India and Nepal.
The 56-year-old Maoist leader, who has just returned froma week-long India trip, said that during his meeting withNational Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, he had discussedsecurity issues and tapping of natural resources in a mutuallybeneficial way.
"I had a good opportunity to hold talks in India at thehighest political level during my recent visit and it wasquite fruitful," said Bhattarai, who is being seen here as oneof the possible candidates for Premiership after the newprocess of electing a Prime Minister starts.
Maoists consider it significant to have communicationwith India and want to improve relations with the giantsouthern neighbour, with whom the party has somemisunderstandings, he said.
"It would also be for India''s advantage to havegood relations with the Unified CPN-Maoist, which is thelargest party" of Nepal, he told a select group of journalistshere.
Bhattarai also dismissed reports that the Maoistsconsider India as a "principal enemy" in their politicalpaper.
"We haven''t said that India is the principal enemy,what we are saying is that India''s capitalist, ruling class isforging alliance with the feudal and regressive forces ofNepal that have blocked the process of forming a Maoist-ledgovernment," he claimed. "We term this as the principalcontradiction with India."
Replying to a question, he said problems existed betweenNepal and India such as border dispute, economic matters andthe issue of reviewing a 1950 treaty, which need to be settledthrough political and diplomatic negotiations.
Bhattarai pointed out that Maoists are demandingscrapping of the 1950 India-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty,under which Indians do not need a passport or visa to visitNepal and vice-versa.
He said his party was not opposed to the idea of Indiansrequiring visas to visit Nepal. (More) PTI SBP KIM AKJ
Bhattarai, who said his recent India visit was a good opportunity to understand each other''s concerns, is now set togo to Mumbai to participate in a seminar on ''The Road to NewDemocracy in Nepal: Problems and Challenges'' tomorrow. But,he said this is going to be a purely academic visit and thereis no political agenda this time.
He said there are two extreme tendencies in Nepal whiledealing with India, one is to overlook problems with India andthe other is to pursue the policy of anti-India nationalismwhich was promoted during the autocratic regime in the past.
"We are opposed to both of these extreme tendencies,"he said. "In order to consolidate our democratic achievementswe need both India and China''s support for our developmentworks," Bhattarai maintained.
He said there were some "flaws" both in the Indianestablishment and Maoists in their perception about eachother and "during my visit to Delhi I tried to clarify myparty''s views."
To a question on political deadlock in Nepal, he said theMaoists are committed to competitive multi-party politics andthere is no possibility of the former rebels returning toarmed struggle.
Answering another question, he said that there is noalternative to formation of a consensus government after thewithdrawal by Nepali Congress candidate Ramchandra Poudyalfrom the Prime Ministerial race.
Maoists should be given first preference to lead aconsensus government but "we will also explore other optionssuch as formation of a government led by smaller parties or aneutral person," Bhattarai said.
His remarks came ahead of urgent talks today amongNepalese lawmakers to try to break the deadlock over theelection of a new Prime Minister after Poudyal, the solecandidate for the post, withdrew from the race.
Nepal is being run by a caretaker government for oversix months following Premier Madhav Kumar Nepal''s resignationunder intense Maoist pressure.
To another question, Bhattarai said his party is yet todiscuss Prachanda''s alternative to head the new government.
About the UN role here, he said his party wants theUnited Nations Mission to Nepal to come back so that the peaceprocess come to a logical end, and if it is not possible,political parties should sit together and work out some sortof mechanism to look after monitoring of the Maoist combatantsand their integration and rehabilitation.
"Our concern is timely drafting of the Constitution andcompleting the peace process and I am hopeful that theConstitution can be drafted within May, 2011 (deadline)," hemaintained.