Balen Shah with his wife Sabina Kafle witness Indra Jatra Festival (09-09-2022)
Since he (Balen Shah ) began his political campaign for Kathmandu’s mayor, I had been keeping an eye on him. The main factors that convinced me to become one of his admirers were his candor and the clear Kathmandu route map that he had been discussing. I was beginning to be impressed by a young man who radiated vitality and excitement. I had been reading and viewing the majority of the news about him that appeared on newspapers, television, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok videos. My optimism in him, however, didn’t last long because of the way he handled the owner of the Alfa Beta in front of the public, which terrified me. His combative and obnoxious public interactions and remarks only served to inflame the public’s dislike of his demeanor. He was acting rather immaturely, in my opinion, by acting that way toward the owner.
We hadn’t seen somebody like him in a while, someone like the protagonist in the Hindi film “Nayak.” Yes, some people compared his actions to those of the movie’s hero. Indeed, his actions are suitable for a strong theatrical picture. However, his snide behavior annoyed me. Then, out of irritation, I began to predict that Balen Shah, the youth’s hope for the future, would also fail and get into the list of Nepal’s unsuccessful leaders.
His manner was absolutely childish and repulsive. So, in a fit of rage, I announced on my Facebook wall that I had unfriended Balen Shah on Twitter and deleted the TikTok video which congratulated him on his triumph as the mayor of Kathmandu Municipality. That day, Balen lost one of his admirers, and I felt gloomy inside and out. I added to my wall post, “Balen, I realized, you also didn’t know how to work.” That’s it, and after that, I have been watching his acts without any reactions, no likes, no dislikes, no comments, and no appreciation.
The full name of Balen Shah is Balendra Shah. He has a strong reputation as a rapper. His rap music is popular with the young generation in the urban areas, in which he denounces dishonest politicians. On the other side of his rap, he argues that using foul language in his raps distinguishes them from other musical genres. However, elder generations become unhappy when songs of this nature shape society’s culture. People can’t help but notice him because of the coarse and misogynistic language in his rap lyrics. At the beginning of July 2022, controversy erupted over his use of a sacred winning crown in the hip-hop reality TV series Nephopko Shreepech, in which he served as a show judge.
He has a master’s degree (MTech) in structural engineering from Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) in Karnataka, India, hence he is a well-educated engineer. He is now Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city’s fifteenth mayor. Shah declared his candidacy as an independent and won the local election on 26 May 2022 by defeating Sirjana Singh of the Nepali Congress and Keshav Sthapit of the CPN (UML). He became the first independent candidate to become the mayor of Kathmandu.
His campaign for mayor focuses on trash management, traffic regulation, provision of public services, corruption prevention, and the preservation of the city’s cultural heritage. His initial drive for trash management had to suffer a setback in its attempt to clear up the mounting filth in the city. Recently, Mayor Shah has started tearing down unauthorized constructions that residents built inside and nearby commercial buildings. He claimed that they blocked basement parking facilities and had to demolish them for ease of the city.
The forceful way in which it was carried out—Balen’s coming to the field himself—has drawn the ire of many business owners. Balen’s public appearance as rowdy caused the fury of many owners. Balen is charged with abuse of power by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). It defended the rampant demolition of unauthorized construction. But the mayor’s renegade attitude, which sees him willing to engage in public fights for the good of the city, almost paints a dramatic picture of the underdog mayor and draws the attention of many supporters.
He has begun digging up the buried “TUKUCHA” river as his next step in purging Kathmandu. In several spots along its path southward, the River Tukucha, which travels from Budhanilkha, is submerged. Tukuch has lost more than two-thirds of its original width and in many places, the river has completely dried up. Gahridhara, Hattisar, and Lazimpat are a few places where Tukucha emanates. The opulent buildings in these sections envelop the river. Challenging these unauthorized buildings constructed over the river, Balen’s Zozer has excavated. These areas now will see new fine, striking natural river course. The Patan High Court, however, ordered the metropolitan city of Kathmandu not to demolish any structures built by encroaching on the Tukucha River. The effort then focuses on open areas in the Putalisadak-Kamaladi area, according to the city office police.
When the dozer travels around the city, it is referred to as “Balen’s Dozer” due to his aggressive involvement in the demolition of illegal structures. His strategies provide a certain dramaturgy in which a lonesome individual is adamantly trying to alter the political system. The question is, however, whether Balen Shah will be able to change the system to suit his needs or whether it will be the other way around.
Balen Shah advocated for change at a time when the bulk of people probably felt cynicism and excitement about the new underdog. Thanks to his fiercely quick actions, he has established himself as the face of the required change that people anticipated and, more importantly, demanded. He confronts doubters by pointing out their flaws. Shah, an independent candidate, has committed himself to enhance the city via his convictions, actions, and passion.
However, we cannot back him irrationally. To win our support, he must first establish a plan for resettling the people who suffered from his demolition. Everyone, from hawkers on the street to business moguls, deserves resettlement decently. Otherwise, it would be an abuse of power to just undermine the settlement in a society. I hope that individuals on low incomes who have lost their jobs will be able to celebrate the approaching Dashain. I can just pray for now that they will be able to bring happiness to their family members. A little calm and a sweet grin on his face might just be enough to win over more fans for his cause because his supporters are still singing the same song. Otherwise, the song continues to be a mob song.
Lauri tekaunla, Bhetaunla Balen dai, Dukkha metaunla
Letting support on the walking stick, We will meet brother Balen, assure freedom from miseries