A desperate desire to solve the problems affecting people in my community brought me into politics. Even as a young man, I felt the need to serve my village, the community of people who live here, and bring about a new dawn for everyone. That must be the dream which brought me into politics. While most people of my age said that they ‘hate politics’ and that they ‘would never join politics’, I became involved in politics. Consequently, now I serve the people as their representative, provide them leadership.
Perhaps because I have always been involved in the social sector, I was intimately familiar with my village and villagers, and the problems they face. It troubled me that poor citizens’ issues never reached people in higher offices. I felt that there was nobody to speak on behalf of the poor. People were deeply disenchanted by politics and politicians. I felt that I should enter politics to cut through that disenchantment: it is imperative to be in leadership positions to effectively address the people’s problems. Therefore, I joined politics, hoping that the presence of educated youths like me would contribute toward raising the living standards of the poor and voiceless villagers.
But I didn’t fall directly into the position of the rural municipality chairperson. I had been working hard to create a foothold in politics. Consequently, I have already been the Regional Chairperson of the Nepali Congress Party. But when I realized that such political achievements were inadequate to serve the citizens without working in leadership positions, I gave my candidacy as for the chairperson of the rural municipality in the 2022 elections – and my voters elected me into office. The voters must have envisioned five beautiful years for the rural municipality in my candidacy; they must have seen youthful enthusiasm and the energy of a new generation. When we went door to door canvassing for votes, many voters used to say that seeing a candidate the age of their sons and grandsons asking for votes showed them new possibilities for transformation. They would talk of bright hopes. Seeing how the people put their hopes and expectations on the youths, I realized that youth isn’t just a matter of age – it is energy, it is hope, it is a new way of thinking, and it is the possibility of transformation. That must be the reason why the elections of 2022 so prominently featured debates around candidates of a newer generation. Many independent candidates unaffiliated with political parties rose to prominence, and were preferred by voters across many constituencies. The new generation created a new history in these elections. If they create a new history through their work also, I believe that one more election cycle will be enough to transform the disenchantment of the youths toward politics into political enthusiasm.
I want to make the municipality beautiful but that doesn’t mean five years are enough to make our municipality beautiful. These five years also come with limitations. The vision I have may take more than five years to realize. Our municipality shares borders with many other municipalities. We must emphasize education, health, roads management, physical infrastructure building and uplifting the living standards of the farmers. We are very backward in terms of education, health and physical infrastructure. Therefore, we are moving forward with plans to address them. Since I have been elected as the chairperson of the municipality, I have been working on constructing schools and roads. I have also done some work addressing the health sector. If we can continue our rapid pace of work, I am hopeful of transforming the municipality over my five year tenure.
I have realized that, alongside development and construction, it is important to manage the social and political sectors. If one focuses solely on development and construction, others will try to pull one down. People have the impression that the local government is like Singha Durbar, and the elected representative is like the king. The federal and provincial governments said as much in their speeches, but they have not translated this into practice. The local government and its chairperson are mediums for the people to get their work done. Yet that doesn’t mean the municipality and the chairperson can do everything the people want. But I am prepared to work day and night to achieve everything in my power and within the limits of my responsibility.
The youths are an inalienable part of the society. But youths in our municipality face a lot of problems. Their biggest problem is unemployment. For any one position in the village, a hundred applications are received – recruitment is very difficult. Local governments can provide a registration process and certificate. But the federal and provincial governments don’t show much interest in coordinating with the local government to bring programs aimed at unemployed youths. The problem of unemployment can be resolved only if the governments at all three levels work together. If the federal government wants, it can create programs aimed at unemployed youths. But the local government alone can’t fix this problem. This frustrates me a lot. In many things I fail despite the will to address the problems. However, we are trying to establish an industrial village in coordination with the federal government. In the upcoming budget, we will allocate funds to provide youths with professional trainings, invest in agriculture for the farmers, and for providing citizens interested in developing private forests in their fields with plants which mature in 5 to 10 years. Our aim is to work in our own municipality to make the youths professional. I also want to develop the youth since I am a young person myself.
There are three classes of people in our municipality – the rich, the middle class, and the poor. Only the children of the poor living in the villages study in local community schools. Their biggest problem is education. The problems faced by farmers are that the government has failed to provide skilled agricultural technicians, electricity for irrigating agricultural land, and agricultural loans. The municipality is served by an electric transformer of low power capacity. We have not been able to use any electric equipment beyond lighting our homes. Agriculture is the main source of income for the municipality – there is no alternative. Therefore, unless there are electric power sources available to irrigate the fields, it is not possible to sow the fields. Unless we manage irrigation in coordination with the federal government, it will not be possible to uplift the lives of the farmers. Although the federal system was instituted, the practice of coordinating with local governments has not been developed.
Two irrigation dams are being constructed to solve agricultural problem. They will provide irrigation for about 3 wards. Elsewhere, in places without irrigation, we are arranging for electric boring wells. I have been trying to acquire NPR 15 million for electricity poles by coordinating with the Planning Commission of the federal government. We have found water at 40 feet. We aim to complete the plan with minimal budget. We aim to reach every field with the electricity-assisted irrigation water. We must all work together to strengthen local level infrastructure.
It has been a year since I became the municipal chair. I wish to list some of the works done in the past year. Our municipality office was a reinforced cement concrete (RCC) building constructed by Indian MBC. Now I have constructed a 28-room RCC building. Twenty-five schools had open compounds. All of them have compound walls with gates. Except for three schools, each has toilets. There were no toilets in government offices. I have established management committees for each school. While there is a dearth of teachers, there is also a lack of students. We have been organizing rallies under the leadership of school principals to increase awareness and expand enrolment. We also established a model school. In terms of health care – there was not a single birthing centre in a municipality with such a large population. The Minister of Industry and Commerce recently inaugurated a functioning birthing centre. We have established a urine and stool examination lab in coordination with the provincial government. There are many more plans for the future. We have the strong will to deliver on the promises made to the voters during the elections.
In the first year of my tenure, I have experienced and learned a lot. Since I am a young politician, there was naturally a lot for me to learn. Positive transformations in our municipality over the course of my tenure will provide the basis for a new future for the coming generation. I believe that I have patience – which is necessary in a politician and in politics. There is a saying in our society – the youth cannot remain focused on one thing for very long, they go astray, they shift easily. I am not like that. I must answer the desire that brought me into politics, and within the span of my own generation, I must light many lamps of possibilities. I must become a shining example for my generation.
Shrikant Prasad Yadav
Jagarnathpur Rural Municipality
Shrikanta Prasad Yadav is the chairman of Jagarnathpur Rural Municipality of Parsa district. He is one of the young chairpersons elected in the local election of 2022 in Nepal.
This blog was initially written in Nepali and has been translated to English.