DIPAYAL, May 29: When the country was holding the first election after the downfall of Rana oligarchy in 1958, the main agenda of the election campaigns was to make easy availability of salt in the hilly districts of Far-western Development Region.
That was the first time when the people were given with the right to choose and elect representatives in a new democratic setup after the end of 104 years of despotic Rana regime. When the candidates were asking the locals about their needs in order to woo the voters, they got the same answer from people all around - easy availability of salt.
“At that time we were forced to go to Tanakpur of India in order to get salt,” said Chinatamani Joshi, 81 of Adarsha Rural Municipality-6. “It used to take almost two months for us to get a sack of salt and we had to use it prudently,” Joshi added.
According to seventy-eight-year-old Baji Nagari of Silgadhi Rural Municipality, Dipayal, many families at that time were obliged to cook their meals without salt. “During that time, salt was as valuable as gold. Those who didn't have salt had to work for a long time in the house of others who had enough salt,” shared Nagari. He further informed that it was a matter of pride for someone if they could serve their guests with delicacies having salt.
After listening to the grudges of the people, former prime minister K I Singh had assured them that they will no longer have to struggle for salt. At that time, Nepali Congress leader Shiba Raj Panta also felt the need of prioritizing salt. Though his first priority was to develop road, it changed to salt after he realized the need of the people.
These elderly citizens have been surprised by the demands of the people during the present election campaigns. “As salt is easily available now, it is no more a priority for villagers,” said Gore Kami, 78, of Dipayal, adding, “People are demanding for roads, bridges, employment, schools and hospitals now.” However they also agree that even their own needs have changed in the recent years. They want to spend their old days happily and it is possible only when their children are employed, hospitals are built, roads are constructed and schools are built.
These elderly people have started to back the demands of the youths. “Demands change with time as they are driven by needs,” said Kami. According to eighty-two-year-old Ram Chandra Bhatta, former professor of Doti Multiple College, the society which once was longing for salt is now demanding for a city with good facilities. “In course of civilization, the agendas of election will also change and it's not a big deal,” said Bhatta.