Mister Terminator

Published On: June 21, 2024 08:45 AM NPT By: Narayan Manandhar

Balen Shah is seeking to become more newar than newars of Kathmandu

There is a saying in Nepali: jos ma hos nagumaunu, meaning, don’t lose temper during your fight. Young people have lots of jos (energy) while old people have hos (sight or direction). The Nepali saying can be applied to our young mayor of KMC. Definitely, because of his age, there is a lot of jos or energy in him but the same cannot be said about his hos. In the absence of direction, speed has little or no meaning. 

When Mr. Rajesh Man Singh won elections in Birgunj Municipality, the Newars in Kathmandu were joyful  - a newar guy won elections in Terai-Madhesi citadel. When Balen Shah won elections in KMC, Terai-Madhesi were in a victorious mood - finally, we conquered the capital city of pahade people. I suppose, many of us also celebrated when Mrs Kamala Haris became US Vice President or when Mr Rishi Sunak became British Prime Minister. But the fact is that reality often belies our wishful thinking. It is the Terai-Madhesi people who are getting the most beating either in the form of forceful eviction of kawadi dealers or street hawkers from Kathmandu Metropolitan City.

Infatuated by the unexpected victory, many youtubers, social activists and die hard youthful fans of Balen have started calling Kantipur or Kathmandu as Balen City and his followers Balen sena. With Bhatgaunle topi, he is trying to project himself more newar than a newar; with daura suruwal he is seeking to become more Nepali than an average Nepali. Unfortunately, it is a rare tradition to wear black daura suruwal, forget about the logo of sirupate khukuri in the bhadgaunle topi. Unless you have problems with eyesight or a psychological one, it is beyond personal etiquette or decency to wear black shades even during formal indoor meetings. During my youthful days, we used to joke about royalties by presenting ourselves wearing dark black goggles in public meetings to mimic them.  

As this scribe watched the results of local elections, Suman Sayami and Madhan Das Shrestha, either by design or by default, by cross-cutting the votes in core areas, helped Balen to win elections. In the final tally, the Deputy Mayor secured more votes than the Mayor. He knew very much how he desperately needed newar votes to win elections, hence is seeking to become more newar than newars of Kathmandu.

His jos as well as hos is now in full display at the New Road. He is in a full fight with the Department of Roads, the Ward Chairpersons, the CPN-UML Party leaders and members. Those of us who assumed victory by forcefully allowing an octogenarian president to walk from the New Road to Gaddibaithak during Kumari festival, should have to pay the price of exhibiting extreme demeanor. A man of character would have banned all army vehicles entering into Hanuman Dhoka. If we have a new party seeking to change awastha within this bebastha, clearly, this man is here to destroy the bebastha itself. He is having a fight with the squatters, with the land encroachers, with the mall owners, with the street hawkers, with the shopkeepers, with the community schools, with court orders, with the federal government and with everybody. I suppose someone correctly remarked in the Executive Meetings of KMC, he is moving like “I am the state”. He is the new terminator in the town. He not only dresses like, acts like, tweets like or behaves like a terminator, he is the terminator. 

I often cited an illustration to the students of management on how different perspectives can be applied even to a single and simple problem like removing a boulder blocking the traffic flows in a highway. An engineer will always look for a simple and straightforward but forceful solution, that is, use dynamite to blow it out. An environmentalist, an economist, a lawyer, a politician, an administrator, a manager or even a traditional religious person may come with different solutions to a single problem. Because of fragile topography, an environmentalist would never suggest for the use of dynamites; an economist will seek for cost-benefit analysis; a lawyer will plead on behalf of rightful owners; an administrator on standard operating procedures; and a religious guru on divine value of that particular boulder blocking the road. With the decision to extend the pavements at the New Road, one could clearly see the use of force - an engineering dimaag from both parties to the dispute. I suppose where has his fleet of advisors gone when it comes to using a simple analysis taught in all B-schools - a stakeholder analysis?

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