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KP Oli: Monarchy ended with the massacre of Birendra’s family

KP Oli: Monarchy ended with the massacre of Birendra’s family

Nepal is currently going through a host of political and social challenges. Major political parties are struggling to find a consensus as the National Assembly election nears, the long drawn-out transitional justice process is nowhere near complete, brain- and labor-drain continues, corruption cases are thriving and the people’s faith in political parties and state institutions is diminishing. In this context.  Kamal Dev Bhattarai, Akhanda Bhandari, Shambhu Kattel and Surendra Kafle talked to CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli on a wide range of issues, including the party’s Sankalpa Yatra (Resolution March) from Jhulaghat in the far west Nepal to Chiwabhanjang in the east. The  principal purpose of this march was to analyze the prevalent issues and challenges facing the mid-hill region and the country at large. Excerpts.  

The UML recently completed its Sankalpa Yatra, and you actively participated in the march. What was the purpose behind this initiative?

Our journey took us through the mid-hill region of Nepal, where our primary focus was to analyze the prevalent issues and challenges facing the region. Additionally, we aimed to explore the potential opportunities, identify obstacles hindering their realization and devise strategies to address them. The campaign also played a pivotal role in fostering stronger local relationships while simultaneously conveying our message on a national level.

What was the response of the people?

Contrary to the dissatisfaction often observed in urban areas, the people of the mid-hills exhibit a different perspective. Their narratives differ significantly from those residing in Kathmandu. The skepticism and aversion towards the political system prevalent in urban centers are not mirrored in rural areas. There seems to be a lack of inclination to embrace unfounded beliefs.

How do you assess the strength of the current political alliance?

Our primary objective is to secure a majority in the upcoming 2080 BS (2027) elections. Following the 2022 elections, we initially placed our trust in the Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, only to be disappointed by his dishonesty. Despite our proposal to Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba for a joint government, he opted for a minority government. In supporting the Shekhar Koirala faction with only eight seats in the Koshi Province, we witnessed the opportunistic nature of Nepali Congress, a party historically known for betrayal. Even the late Sushil Koirala had betrayed our trust. Our experiences with Dahal, Deuba, Koirala, and Kedar Karki have reinforced our perception of their honesty—or lack thereof.


You criticize the current government for ruining the country, yet you claim not to be attempting to change it. Isn't this contradictory?

While we acknowledge the detrimental impact of the current government on the nation, the reality is that we hold 80 seats and require 138 seats to form a new government. Changing the government is not solely within our control; various factors are at play. Our ability to bring about change is constrained by these factors. The current situation is exceptionally critical, with dissatisfaction evident in various aspects—social, economic, political, cultural, foreign, and environmental. Despite our vocal disapproval of the current government, the practical challenge lies in attaining the necessary 138 seats.

How confident are you about returning to power?

My personal interest in returning to power is minimal. Engaging in the political arena to save the government would likely be met with opposition. Those opposing forces would attempt to thwart my efforts, making governance challenging. My belief is that the resilience and patriotism of the Nepali people, demonstrated historically in their confrontation with the British forces using khukuri, will save this country.

You recently mentioned the issue of the ‘business of identity’. Could you elaborate on that?

Some people are running this ‘business of identity’, rooted in fostering hatred. It was initially instigated by the Maoists. But they are no longer openly claiming responsibility. However, they continue to be involved in this business through proxy forces. A meeting chaired by the prime minister takes the decision (to select the name of the province). Votes are cast accordingly. Later they say the decision should be reconsidered. How can such an individual govern the province? The conduct of the Koshi chief minister, who avoids mentioning ‘Koshi Province’, has raised questions about the Nepali Congress as well. Which forces is he trying to appease by not pronouncing the province’s name? How can such an individual govern the province?

But wasn’t it UML which supported his bid for the post of chief minister?

We supported his chief ministerial bid with the intention of promoting positive governance, not to engage in disruptive activities. We did not support him to disturb communal harmony.

Do you believe you made a mistake by supporting the chief minister of Koshi?

No, we do not consider it a mistake. The decision was made under unique circumstances. No party had a majority in the provincial assembly, and some forces were trying to stop us. We supported him as he promised to work in a positive way. However, he displayed dishonesty soon after taking office. His dishonest character became evident shortly after he secured a vote of confidence.

The developments in Koshi seem to parallel the situation at the center. UML supported someone to form the government, but you are not part of it. Was this a miscalculation on UML’s part?

It is not a significant issue, and we have not taken any benefit from it. The Nepali Congress has consistently demonstrated dishonesty on critical occasions. Deuba had minimal chances of becoming prime minister on his own. Other forces, including the Maoists, supported him to secure the position. Despite publicly committing to appoint Dahal as prime minister after the election, Deuba reneged on his promise.

Deuba avoided discussions with us. His plan was to stall the process until 5 pm, and make a claim for the prime minister’s position. But he was unlikely to get a vote of confidence. This would mean a midterm election. We supported Dahal to avoid that. Unfortunately, Dahal also failed to demonstrate honesty in his leadership.


Prime Minister Dahal, whose party has only 32 seats in parliament, has been claiming that his government will last for five years. What do you think is behind his confidence?

Dahal is in a seemingly ‘comfortable’ situation. Initially, we were not in favor of his leadership, and external forces did not actively support him in becoming prime minister. We supported him with the intention of steering national politics in the right direction, but he betrayed our trust. Forces that opposed the country’s development now have the upper hand. Dahal started becoming ‘comfortable’ for them.

Is there a possibility of left unity?

Left unity has already been evident, and that’s why UML stands as the most popular party. Certain forces cannot be termed ‘left’ based solely on their name. A party toeing the line of Nepali Congress and failing a leftist government with two-thirds majority cannot be considered leftist. A force growing comfortable with foreign influences cannot claim to be a leftist, nor patriotic.

‘Oli-phobia’ is the term assigned to those who do not agree with you. Why do you think foreign forces and senior party leaders fear you?

I leave the analysis of this ‘phobia’ to others. However, there must be a reason for it. It could be due to my unwavering stance on national interests. Another factor is my lack of personal greed; I prioritize only national interests. I anticipated my government’s failure when signing a transit treaty with China and understood that my stay in power would be challenged when publishing a new map, reclaiming land encroached upon by others. I strongly believe in maintaining friendly conduct with our neighbors. And I expect the same in return.

Will the UML contest the 2027 election independently?

Yes, we will contest the election independently.

What if the Maoists propose forming a coalition?

We will still contest independently.

Recently, there has been a rise in forces advocating for reinstatement of monarchy and the Hindu state. How does UML view these movements?

They are talking about religion but they have a criminal motive. Killings and bloodshed cannot be a religion. In the 21st century, it is inappropriate to advocate for a state favoring one religion over others. Nepal is a country for everyone. Regarding the monarchy, there is no substantial discussion warranted for its return, since it ended with the tragic massacre of King Birendra’s family. With no one from his dynasty remaining, the continuation of monarchy is not a viable consideration.

Top three leaders are meeting regularly these days. What is happening with the transitional justice issue?

The concern here is that those responsible for past atrocities are now positioned as ‘judges’. The individuals in power were once perpetrators, involved in acts of torture, oppression, bombing and openly taking claims for the death of 5,000 people. How can we expect impartial judgments from those with a history of perpetrating such actions? Individuals involved in past atrocities should not be in positions of power if we are to take the pace process to a logical conclusion. UML is for concluding the transitional justice process, but the prime minister and his party is causing the hindrance.

What are the stances of the Maoists and UML on ending the transitional justice process, and what are the contentious issues?

The Maoist party aims to conclude the process by neglecting the suffering of victims, whereas the UML is for concluding the process by prioritizing justice for the victims. The key issue lies in addressing the grievances of the victims, ending impunity, and establishing the truth before moving towards reconciliation.

Does this suggest a decrease in the chances of the transitional justice process reaching a resolution?

The resolution depends on the prime minister’s stance. While the UML is clear on its position, Prime Minister Dahal aims to conclude the process without adequately addressing the grievances of the victims. 


Several major scandals, such as gold smuggling, Lalita Niwas land grab and Bhutanese refugee scam surfaced but soon dissipated. Why is this happening?

Our initial plan was to probe gold smuggling by forming a three-member judicial commission. However, attempts were made to exert influence on the case, leading to the addition of another member. It is unlikely that this commission, shaped by external interference, will deliver justice as originally intended.

The management of Bhutanese refugees was a significant problem for Nepal. I held talks with US President Bush and Foreign Secretary Condoleeza Rice for resettlement of the refugees. In 2006, the US expressed commitment for the resettlement of refugees. After signing necessary agreements, we began sending the refugees to the US in 2008. The US agreed to accommodate 60,000 refugees and initiate necessary measures for the resettlement of the remaining others.

Some even suggested your involvement in these scams. What do you say?

Our role was limited while sending refugees to third countries. Those who sent other people in the guise of Bhutanese refugees should be made accountable. The accusations of involvement in wide-body aircraft purchase are baseless. We only released the last installment to the supplier on the basis of agreement reached by the previous government. It’s not that we raised the installment and pocketed money.

What about the UML’s involvement in Giribandhu Tea Estate?

Initially, the tea estate was allotted 51 bighas of land, followed by an additional 19 bighas on the second occasion. People involved allegedly pocketed commissions during this process. The anti-graft body advised the government that land allocation should only occur through the enactment of relevant laws. Consequently, we initiated the drafting of the necessary law and regulations. Once the law came into force, the process of land allocation ended altogether.

What about UML’s preparation for the National Assembly election?

We have fewer votes. Our success hinges on garnering support from others. Otherwise, we will not win.