Interview with Manushi Bhattarai, Nepali Student Leader
by Ben Peterson
Below is an interview with Manushi Bhattarai. She is part of the Maoist Ticket that swept the student elections at Tribhuvan University — Nepal’s largest. She discusses the revolution, recent political developments, the international situation, and the role of youth.
The elections took place in March 2009. At the Kirtipur Campus of Tribhuvan University (Nepal’s foremost), the Maoist-affiliated All Nepal National Independent Students´ Union-Revolutionary (ANNISU-R) won the presidency of the student union, and 13 of 15 members of the student council. Manushi had the highest vote of all the winning candidates.
Manushi Yami Bhattarai is also the daughter of Baburam Bhattarai and Hisila Yami (“Comrade Parvati”), leading figures of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).
Ben Peterson: Thanks a lot for meeting with me. The All Nepal National Independent StudentUunion (Revolutionary) (ANNISU(R)) won the student elections at Tribhuvan University. What did the campaign involve, and what are some of your policies as a revolutionary student union?
Manushi Bhattarai: The student union elections were a very historically important process for our organization and for the Maoist party.
There have been student elections for many years, but for some time the revolutionary student movement has not been able or allowed to participate. We were banned. Also we did not look at these elections simply from the point of view as elections to the student representative bodies but as part of the whole ongoing political process in Nepal.
So in those terms, we had a real breakthrough. We were not contesting for the offices as such, but linking the student struggles to the political process. While we were campaigning we always had this in mind. We campaigned around the issues on this campaign, but also around the entire education system across the country. And in these terms it all came back to the political issues that our party has been addressing for many years now.
That was how we campaigned, and I think we were successful in spreading our message to the other students. We were coming back into open student politics after a long time. We were new faces, with a new agenda.
People knew about our commitment and the gains our party has been able to make during the People’s War. People can actually see the gains. We are the Republic of Nepal.
Read the rest of this entry »