New leaders, new dreams
SURKHET, June 21: Geeta Nepali, 26, was an artist in the Maoist militia during the conflict era. Now, she has been elected as the deputy mayor of the Aathbikot Municipality, Rukum. This promotion to a leader from an artist has made her even more ambitious. But her ambitions are not personal. They are for the welfare of the municipality and the nation at large, she says.
“As an artist I had limited powers and authority to bring about changes in our society. But now, I am in an important position. People have trusted me and handed me the opportunity to plan and implement plans that will develop our society and nation. I will try my best to not let them down,” she said.
Nepali wants to vie for the mayoral post in the next election. For that she says she has made plans to win over the heart of the voters during her tenure as deputy mayor. “This time, they have elected me as their deputy mayor. I would do such work that they would not hesitate to make me their mayor in the next local level election. Politics is both passion and promise,” she stated.
Local level election, held after nearly two decades, has given rise to new leaders across the country. In the province number six, 158 new leaders have emerged in the form of local representatives this year. If we talk of the ward level, this number gets larger - there are 4300. While these leaders are gearing up to take the nation on the course of development and prosperity, at the same time most of them are also heading on a political journey, paths of which they have never treaded before.
Chief and deputy chief of several municipalities and village municipalities who had recently gathered here in Birendranagar expressed similar commitment. They said that they would strengthen the base of their political career in the next five years while serving the populace from their respective chairs.
“Democracy gives birth to new leaders and grooms them. It is the essence of democracy,” noted Ghanashyam Bhandari, mayor of Dullu Municipality. A former journalist, Bhandari added that the country would not have been able to move ahead if the local polls were delayed further.
“The country was in desperate need of the local level elections. Things were going out of track in villages and towns in lack of a proper functioning local government,” he said adding that this lack was massively obstructing local development.
“Despite being well funded, development programs were simply not making progress. There was a hole in the system. There were no people who could be held accountable for the sluggish pace of development,” he said.
“Local election this year has changed this scenario. It has opened door for development while also providing opportunities to new leaders like us to hone our leadership skills,” he added.
Like Nepal, Bhandari also said that he aspires to come out a better leader at the end of his tenure. And the post of mayor is a golden opportunity to demonstrate his skills and commitment, he said.
There are 25 municipalities and 54 rural municipalities in the province. Except in the Chandannath Rural Municipality of Jumla, there are women in all of these local bodies as deputy chief. Most of these women leaders state that they are committed to make the best of the authority that the local election has given to them.
“Democracy has given us this platform. We want to make the best possible use of it for the welfare of our community,” said Sarita Oli, deputy mayor of Chhedgad Rural Municipality of Jajarkot. “If we can deliver the promises that we made and impress the voters with our achievements, next time we will be definitely elected as mayor,” she added.
Oli shared that she believes in gradual progress. “Even if we want things to change overnight, it does not happen. Whether it is development, awareness or honing our leadership skills, it takes little or more time,” she said.
She stated that election of so many women as deputy mayors across the country is a huge mileage for both women empowerment and empowerment of the country. Women's massive presence at the leadership level has paved a clear way for the development of the society and the county as a whole, she remarked. “Women who have been elected to the post of deputy chief of local bodies this time, will have the opportunity to contend the next election for the post of chief,” she said.
Deputy Mayor of Tripurasundri Municipality of Dolpa, Chandra Kumari Buda also said that in the next local elections a lot more women will be contending for the posts of mayor across the country. “Next time, we will have nearly equal number of women and men mayors across the country,” she asserted.
Kantika Sejuwal, the only woman mayor in the province has similar views. The mayor of Chandannath Municipality stated that the 'performance' shown by the present local level leaders would shape their political career. “Women are gradually becoming aware of their own potentials. They are aspiring for equality and better leadership roles. They are motivated to do their best and pave way to clinch better leadership roles in the next election,” she said.