“The people have done their job; the ball is in the parties’ court.”
How do you find your self in the society?
I was thirteen when we had the first people ‘s movement back in 1990s.I used to go to a private school and it was uncommon for a student from private school to join student politics. When I finished school my father wanted me to be a doctor or an engineer. I harbored the same dream. Then I came in contact with student leaders and realized that I was better suited for politics rather than some technical profession. My family was never happy with that decision of mine. Then I become a full time student activist, I worked with the Nepali congress from the very beginning. Then I contested in the election got elected as the president in the oldest campus in the Kathmandu valley.
At that time the political leaders had lost all credibility of the people. So for any individual politics was never the priority, at least not for the urban people who had well educated, had access to resources and who came from a well to do family.
Now it has become some kind of passion. But at that time life was easy, our activities were confined within the valley. After October when King seized power there was a dramatic change in the situation. Though people had lost all faith in the political leaders. They gradually started trusting the young political activists, the leaders. It gave us some kind of hope. We were the first ones to come out on the streets with radical issues. I was the first one to be detained under sedition charge, the charge for offense against the state. I was released and again after one and half year was detained for the same charge.
Now in this new situation I am more recognized as a young leader who has been advocating for republican setup from the very beginning. Unfortunately my party leaders aren’t so happy with me. So I don’t hold any official position within my party and in the student union. I am more with my happy life compared to what it was four or five years ago when my party was in the government,despite not being in good terms with my party leaders. Whenever or go outside the valley or any college I see hope in people’s eyes. That trust is what I have gained. It gives me energy to carry on. It feels as thought someone is telling me: You’ve got the trust of the people. It is not the leaders but the people who you are fighting for. They are right; they trust you so you must go ahead. So I find my self in a comfortable position. Therefore I don’t bother much about what the political leaders have to say about me. For me, the major concern is what the people have to say about me. If they are happy with me, satisfied with me I will carry on.
What is the reason you chose to be a political leader?
I was a very good student at school. My father and I had a common dream. I stood first in my campus in my grade 11 exams. There was a trend that good students never joined politics. It was left for the last benchers. I wondered why the first benchers were supposed to leave the country or were not in that field which would lead the country in the last. That gave me impetus to join politics. I contested in the election and got elected with the highest number of votes. No particular event as such occurred, it was the realization. Since then even though my family wasn’t quite happy with me I continued politics.
So your family isn’t still happy with you?
At first they weren’t happy about it. My father is an engineer and always wanted his four children to be in the same profession as well. My elder brother is an engineer, I have two younger brothers: one is an engineer while the other is a doctor. So, at that time he might have thought all the other three children, besides me had fulfilled his dream. But I think he is quite happy now.
You are still a student leader?
Unfortunately you don’t have any age bar to be a student leader here. I for instance have completed my Masters. So I don’t want to present myself as a student leader because I have officially quit student politics. I wouldn’t contest for any official position in the student union. But as we passed through this political upheaval, I still have to maintain the connection and contacts within the student union. I have to move along with them. I am still involved with it though I want to officially quit student politics and join party politics. I am already in the party politics; I have been elected as a delegate to the Nepali Congress, National assembly. So at any point of time I will be quitting student politics.
What is your interest for now?
Two things: the issue we had raised since last few years has become the national political agenda, the issue of a republican setup and the issue of Constituent Assembly. It’s more of a challenge and honor as well for the people like us who had been advocating it from the very beginning. It’s our responsibility to see to it that the Seven Party Alliance stay together and encourage the Maoists to strengthen the bond with the parties as well.
The second concern for me would be to bring a massive reform within my own party. I believe that Nepali Congress is a democratic party, so if the NC fights for democratic values but practices undemocratic values within itself it isn’t going to work. So I will work to put pressure within the party so that it will actually practice those democratic values rather than only talk of it.
You have any plans in politics?
I havebeen involved in politics for the last 15 years so I do have plans. Before I used to think I would that as I have already become the General Secretary of the Student Union, I should be an MP (Member of Parliament) and then vie for a place in the cabinet. I no longer think that way. To be an MP or to be elected to Constituent Assembly is no more the priority for me, I’d rather prefer to be without any position but don’t want to lose people’s trust: the credibility I have won in the last few years. You may find me without any official position for years and years. I would rather be happy to find myself in the position where I can articulate people’s voice. For me that would be the priority, the area of my concern.
So how do you plan to carry on?
Again two important things:
First I have to maintain the relation I have with civil society, press, and my sympathizers who are not within my party as they are my major strength. Then I will try to form a strong, though small group with the people who share the same view that we should bring a massive reform within our party. That is how I think I should carry on.
What is the definition of happy life for you? You’re unmarried aren’t you? Any plans for marriage?
I used to have such plans before. I used to tell my mother I will think of it (marriage) after the restoration of democracy. And now my mom says as democracy has already been restored it is time to think of it. It is very easy for a boy and a girl to look into each other’s eyes but I would rather look for a partner with whom I can look at the same spot at the same time. 😆 So if I find any friend on my way who understands my struggle, my cause and who can accept it very easily then I would be more that happy to have life partner. If I have to make some compromises with my cause, struggle then I would rather give up that ambition of having a partner.
It’s hard to find the perfect partner isn’t it?
I don’t expect a perfect partner, as I might not be perfect from her perspective. But at least she should understand why we have fought for years and years. If any girl comes in my life with a dream of owning cars and big bungalows then I cannot fulfill her dream. I never had that kind of ambition, I am happy with my life. So if she also sees from the same perspective thinks that this is what happiness is: getting the trust from your people, belief from the people then we could move on. If not then I might not be the right partner for her.
What do you think of women and women rights in Nepal?
Looking from a women’s perspective they can say that there is a gross violation of human rights regarding women. Even in urban areas where they have more or less equal access to resources, knowledge, and education they aren’t treated fairly. Even my own party, Nepali congress, was reluctant to decide on providing citizenship through mother’s name, or giving women the right to parental property. So it’s a hard life for women, it is harder for rural women, tougher for scheduled caste women. Women will have to fight for years and years to get equal rights. Rights to lead a dignified life.
Do you have any dream?
I would think that my dream has been fulfilled when I find young people of my age from rural areas, schedule caste, from very poor family getting the same opportunity as me. I don’t dream Nepalese people to have a prosperous life, comparing it with American citizen, but at least the life with I am getting in an urban setting, coming from a well to do family, an upper caste family. I would expect the same life for a young Nepali in a rural setting. The day it happens I will think that my dream has been fulfilled.
What do you think of this movement?
The uniqueness of this people’s uprising was that it was not lead by the political parties, the political leaders. The people themselves led the movement. The people led the political parties and the Maoists. So the challenge for the political parties after the movement is how to save that energy and transform it into the progress of the society. If the political parties can do it then we are heading towards a positive direction. But if they fail then Nepal will be in a more deplorable state. The people have done their job; the ball is in the parties’ court.
AS TOLD TO YUMI AND ME. QUESTIONS ASKED BY YUMI AND TRANSCRIBED BY ME 😆