JHAPA, Sept 7: “I will make Birtamod market so clean that you would be able to pick and eat grains that are spilled on the ground around here.
” This used to be the oft-repeated commitment of Dhruba Kumar Shivakoti while he was fielding for the mayoral post for Birtamod Municipality from CPN-UML. People believed him and elected him as the mayor of Birtamod. However, in the last two months since he assumed office, he has not stepped even once in that agricultural market where he made that promise. Neither have any of his team members been there. The market, which is considered the biggest one in the entire eastern region, remains filthy and stinking as ever.
Similarly, Jhapa Bazar also has the same story. Nepali Congress candidate for the chairperson of Jhapa Rural Municipality, Jayanaran Sah was no less vocal about changing the face of the market. “I do have a master plan to reclaim the lost beauty and aura of this market,” he would tout. “You will see changes within some days of my election to the post.”
He too was elected as the chairperson. But nothing has changed in the market. Everything remains messy and locals lament lack of waste management provisions, as they used to earlier. Shah states that he as not been able to do anything about it due to the lack of time. “There was flood, it was massive. Which deviated our focus from fulfilling our election agenda,” he said in defense.
According to Sah he has not even been able to make plans for the development of town. “We have not discussed development plans for the town. We will be discussing and finalizing them very soon,” he said adding that it’s been just two months of assuming office.
Interestingly, both Sah and Shivakoti have good record of attending felicitation programs. Post election, they have been garlanded and smeared with red power several times. And this is the common story actually of almost all of the elected local representatives of Jhapa. For a few days, people thronged to their houses to congratulate them. After sometime, programs were organized to felicitate them publicly.
According to locals of Jhapa Rural Municipality, the ‘senseless culture’ of felicitating someone over and over again has simply made the term felicitation itself sound meaningless. “This has kept our leaders from doing their job,” noted Dayaram Rajbhansi, a local of Jhapa Rural Municipality. He added that besides the excuse of floods, local representatives also forward lack of clear policy as an excuse to defend their inactivity. “They come to office and leave it without doing any work and most of the time they say there is lack of clear policy of their working procedures,” Rajbanshi reported.
Some youths in the area believe that representatives are using flood or lack of office or rules and regulations, as lame excuses. Earlier, their promises were so loud. But after coming to the power, they are seen too lethargic, Rajbanshi remarked.
Locals state that the representatives have full support of the public and that they have enough space to carry out any public related work. Decisions taken unanimously won’t be challenged and for those who want to work genuinely for the betterment of the people and the place, there would be no hurdle, Rajbanshi opines.
“There are small local units now and everyone knows what they are up to. So, if the local representatives want it, they can garner enough support to get things done,” he said. “Who would oppose, if they initiate cleanliness drive and so on?”
There are eight municipalities and seven rural municipalities in Jhapa. The mayors and deputy mayors of all those bodies seem to have no idea about what should they do further. No matter how impressive their election agenda were, they hardly utter about it anymore. According to Rajbanshi, they also cite lack of budget along with other excuses when someone questions about their inactivity.
“But then, why are they attending felicitation program here and there? If they are not doing their duty properly or not able to do so, don’t they feel uncomfortable to accept garlands and khadas at felicitation programs?” he fumed.
Local representatives of Birtamod, Mechinagar, Damag and Arjundhara, among other areas have all disappointed public, locals say. Some put the blame on the lack of coordination between political parties for the lack of result. If Mayor is from one party and others in the panel are from other parties, tussle is likely, Rajbanshi noted.
“Whatever, they only need excuse and when there is no coordination, things get complicated further,” he noted.