Campaign aims to expand organisational reach: Pun

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The five-day meeting of the CPN (Maoist Centre)  has decided to start a ‘Special Transformation Campaign’ from August 29 to December 1. During the campaign, the entire party’s focus will be directed towards the local wards, aiming to gain power by effectively conveying the government’s accomplishments to the people through party leaders and workers.

Focusing on the campaign, a team from Gorkhapatra Corporation, including Consultant Editor Upesh Maharjan, reporter Birendra Oli, and videographers Manoj Ratna Shahi and Keshab Gurung recently interviewed CPN (Maoist Centre)’s Deputy General Secretary, Barshaman Pun. Excerpts: 

The CPN (Maoist Centre) had previously carried out a two-month campaign. Why did you have to run a campaign for three months? What will be the focus of the campaign now?

We initially conducted a normal two-month campaign, but it did not produce the desired results. The preparations were insufficient, and the campaign did not achieve the desired success due to inadequate homework and readiness. Building upon this learning experience, we have undertaken preparations to strengthen and expand our organisation’s reach and enhance our connection with the people. Thus, we are launching a special purification, transformation, and strengthening campaign.

This campaign holds significant importance as it will engage the public in understanding the government’s efforts to combat corruption and ensure good governance through our party’s initiatives, leading to transformative changes.

In the previous campaign, a majority of leaders were centralised in Kathmandu or at district headquarters, leading to some leaders not being aware that the campaign had concluded. How is the current campaign structured differently?

Earlier, the meeting of the Central Committee was not called. A decision was made by the general office bearers regarding the campaign. Consequently, many individuals did not assume responsibility, and others missed out on the opportunity to be informed.

This time, we anticipate a successful campaign because central members have engaged in continuous discussions over five days. The discussions encompassed both criticism and support for the party leadership and the government. The meeting addressed issues observed in the field.

The party had seen many problems since its establishment and the three-month campaign, which aims to engage with the public, has been designed to address and solve the problems. There has been extensive public practice and participation for the campaign.

The campaign will operate smoothly for three months by changing the responsibilities of the province, district, municipality as necessary. We will also be eliminating any instances of groupism and mutual enmity.

Will the campaign effectively communicate the government’s achievements to the public?

Absolutely, we are committed to bridging the gap between the government’s accomplishments and the public’s awareness. We will come up with the suggestions for the government at the public level. Moreover, the government is temporary while the party’s presence is ever lasting. The party’s continuity ensures that even beyond the government’s term. Till we are in the government, we will continue to do good works. 

You are launching the campaign in the monsoon. Will not natural calamities like floods and landslides affect your campaign?

We have decided to launch the campaign considering that the weather will improve by then. Generally, the monsoon will be weak during that time. In these 15-20 days, internal preparations will be made. We have planned to inaugurate the campaign in 6, 743 wards simultaneously. We will show our strong presence in the wards where we are weak. We have our organisation and contact office at every local level. The campaign will be launched by organising assembly, training or work of public welfare. Party Chairman and Prime Minister, Vice Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister will reach seven wards of all seven provinces. We, office bearers, have taken the responsibility of seven provinces including three non-geographical regions.

Will the CPN (Maoist Centre) set an example of rule and regulation for other parties?

Our party has not been operated without rules and regulations. But we need to transform ourselves according to time and circumstances. There are departments in the party. We will be in the House of Representatives if we are not in the government, and we will help in the law formulation. The works of the sister organisations and fronts are to inspire the government, goad the government, and exert pressure on it for good works. The 21st century is the age of Artificial Intelligence. Earlier, we used to go with papers in our hands,  but that has changed now. We said that we would conduct live meeting, but friends didn’t agree. Like there is privacy in a house there is also a certain privacy in the party, so we decided not to stream our meeting live. It’s mandatory for us to upgrade ourselves. We can’t be a modern party if we can’t conduct digital meetings. We won’t be able to address the modern world and will lag behind.

Will there be an environment of internal democracy in the party committees?

Absolutely, the leadership will be chosen through election at every level. There is a system but it is not translated into action. There will be internal democracy in every committee and organisation. Now, one cannot be a politician merely pleasing the prominent leaders, instead, the leaders need to win the confidence of the party carders and people.

How do you analyse the government’s work?

The government has done good work, especially in its actions against corruption. It has succeeded in breaking the network of middlemen and smuggling. The government’s campaign has inspired the party’s leaders and cadres to stay away from maleficence. Positive steps have been taken in cases of fake Bhutanese refugees, gold smuggling, Lalita Niwas land grab and usury.

Why are you not ready to form a high-level commission to investigate the gold smuggling case? Are you afraid that the opposition will get credit?

Not at all. 

Past commissions were not able to deliver results. They were formed to quell the anger and frustration the people expressed but after the public voice softened, they got put in the drawer. 

We have experts and mechanisms to investigate criminal actions. We have to trust the professionals who have spent their lives working in this field and have gained specialised knowledge. The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) is very capable of carrying out the investigation. We should all focus on letting the concerned agencies work independently. Nobody should misuse state agencies. 

The agency investigating the gold case should be allowed to work. If it cannot then the option of forming an investigation committee is still there.

But the real owner of the gold has still not been found. Because of the back and forth between the ruling and opposition parties, people have started suspecting that the two sides are in cohoots.

Gold is suspected to have been smuggled 22 times before this. Authorities are saying that this was the 23rd time. So, should the government have let the accused go? It is wrong to suspect the government of wrongdoing when it is, in fact, focused on nabbing the wrongdoers. 

Past 22 cases of gold smuggling must also be investigated and the culprits arrested. The police believe that the gold case could be part of international organised crime and that Nepal could have been used as a transit. The relevant authorities may provide further details in the coming days.

Some entities tried to defame me a few days ago based on a photo. I am ready for any investigation by any agency. But government bodies, parties or the media should not try to assassinate anyone’s character.

Lawmakers from the opposition parties and even some from the ruling alliance have accused CPN (Maoist Centre) of intentionally trying to trap members of other political parties. What do you have to say about this?

I request the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, no one, either from the government side or the opposition or members of our own party, no one should be slandered based on suspicion or general information. In the age of information technology, no one should make anyone baselessly look guilty, write news and have it be shared millions of times. CIB released some people after their investigation. Up until a few days ago, the media were calling them the masterminds of the gold smuggling plot. But now, after an investigation, they were released. The state should sufficiently look into a matter before arresting anyone. If evidence demands that a person be detained then they should undoubtedly be detained. But no one should be arrested based solely on a photo or phone call.

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