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Ranju Darshana : THE 21 YEAR OLD WHO COULD HAVE BEEN MAYOR

As a child she was active in social and community work and would gather friends to sweep the neighborhood. And when there were ward meetings being held, she was a keen observer. Normally, when you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, you come across a range of career choices but Ranju Darshana wrote ‘Nepal’ on a piece of paper. As she grew older, she wanted to join the army or police force. She recalls saluting soldiers and guards and getting scolded at by her mother. But one thing was certain… she wanted to serve her country. Today she understands that politics is the only way for her to achieve that dream. And that is why she created a stir when she became a young contestant for the position of Mayor at the recently held local body elections. She may not have won, but she gave fierce competition to established players. Above all, she became a household name across the nation as a 21 year old who was ready to take on the challenges of politics and position to facilitate the voice of the youth.

What is Bibeksheel Nepali?

It literarily means, Party of Rational Nepalese. We believe only responsible citizens and accountable leadership can build a peaceful and prosperous nation. Bibeksheel Nepali is not just a party, it’s a movement that touches and revolves around values, politics and culture. For instance, we helped to disband the then popular trend of protesting, Nepal bandh. If you want politicians to be of good character than you as a citizen have to be of good character. We are a new and rising political party, not only built by the youths but also led by them.

Your challenges…

Raised by a single mother, I had to face this constant notion that I should get married early. When I was in school, I used to feel the difference of not having a normal family and used to wonder if things could come to normal. I understand now that both father and mother have equally important roles in a child’s life. But under any circumstances, if I were to choose one, I would choose my mom. I know there will always be adversaries and people talking behind our backs but the only people that I am answerable and accountable to are my mom and grandmother. As long as I think its ethical, I won’t give up.

Your experience as a Mayoral candidate of Kathmandu…

Well come to think of it, everything just fell into place. Bibiksheel Nepali has an open candidate policy where one can present a case to the panel of judges and if they are convinced of what you have to offer as a candidate then you are eligible to represent Bibeksheel Nepali. Just when the local elections were announced, I turned 21 and Bibeksheel Nepali chose me as their candidate to fight the local elections. Though I was always interested in politics, when it came to me fighting the local election, nothing was planned nor strategised. My proposal as a candidate was accepted by Bibeksheel and I stood for the position of Mayor of Kathmandu. We had done 7-8 months survey going door to door and according to collective data, we found almost people wanted their mayor to be someone new… a youth with vitality and with no corruption record. When the election symbols were allocated some major parties had already got their symbol five days in advance; we got ours only five days prior to the election. Registered votes to secure was almost two lakhs so you can imagine that there wasn’t ample time to reach so many people in such short time. Furthermore, when other parties were campaigning for local bodies, they were found promoting their own candidate to the post of a mayor. But overall it was a memorable experience.

What do you think are some misconceptions of you and your party that people may have?

The misconception is that Bibeksheel Nepali is funded by U.S.A (United States of America). No, it’s not! It is just a coincidence that our founder, Ujwal Thapa studied in the States. In fact, we are the first party that has put all of our transactions of funds on our website and even the expenses that were incurred during elections.

I am always told that I am too young and inexperienced. Well, I believe it’s neither about age nor gender that is of any issue to be a good politician. It’s the ideology. Most politicians are so backdated that one has to wonder: do they have what it takes to take Nepal to the next level? Yes, I may be inexperienced in many things and that’s a fact, but I am also inexperienced when in it comes to corruption and unprofessionalism… and that too is a fact!