Nepal’s two newest political parties are the first ones to announce mayoral candidates for Kathmandu’s municipality elections next month.
At a time when the NC, UML and other established parties look undecided over candidates, journalist-turned-politician Rabindra Mishra’s Sajha Party and the youth-based Bibeksheel Nepali – both of which have never fought elections – have chosen two unconventional politicians: former secretary Kishor Thapa and 21-year-old student Ranju Darshana.
Thapa of the Sajha Party was an SLC topper, studied architect engineering and served as a top bureaucrat for 22 years. If elected, he says he will expand roads in Kathmandu, expedite the Melamchi and Outer Ring Road projects and introduce a 20-year energy development plan.
Thapa argues Kathmandu needs a political leader with administrative and technical know-how, and claims to be one. “I am familiar with every alley of Kathmandu,” he says. “As a bureaucrat, I have worked to develop Kathmandu. Now I want to lead the city politically.”
Ranju Darshana, Bibeksheel Nepali’s candidate, has none of the experience that Thapa does. But she has emerged as a feisty youth politician after joining Bibeksheel Nepali three years ago.
Thapa was born the year the Maoist war began, and was just one-year-old when Nepal last held local elections in 1997. Raised by her single mother in Kathmandu, she says she had to suffer because of the mess created by bad politicians, and joined politics to clean that up.
“If elected, I will work to make Kathmandu greener, pedestrian-friendly and a place where everyone can work and live peacefully,” says Darshana, a bachelor student of development studies.