Yadav’s pet project ‘the mayor for the poor’ has been a hit. As a development worker, he always felt ‘limited’ whenever he reached the under-served villages of Dom, Musahar, Chamar or other Dalit communities. His ‘mayor for the poor’ project is enabling the Dalits to access public services.
As part of its activities, the mayor delivers sanitary kits to pregnant Dalit women. Under-served families get free solar panels so their children can focus on studies. Soon after being elected mayor last year, Yadav hit the ground running. He met with Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) officials to power his municipality with solar energy. The AEPC subsidises 60% of the solar power installation cost, and Yadav encourages his constituents to make use of these grants.
The municipality has decided to provide an additional subsidy for the poor and Dalit families who cannot manage even 40% of the cost of solar lighting. The municipality is also installing solar street lights, and improving rural roads to help farmers get their produce to market.
The mayor’s office has revived a birthing centre which was out of operation for years, in Harpur of Parsagadi. Sangita Devi Sah, a local social worker, gave birth to her child in the local birthing centre early this year. “If the mayor had not restarted this facility, I would have to go to Birganj for delivery, these little improvements matter for people like us,” she says.
Detractors say the mayor is ‘slow’, but Yadav says he is just ‘steady’. They say he is not ‘charismatic’, but he says he is just ‘honest’.
Brij Mohan Chaudhari, who was the mayoral candidate of the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN), accuses Yadav of wasting his budget in unnecessary road projects. But even Chaudhari admits that Yadav has done well to uplift health, education and social welfare in the municipality.
“Province 2 mayors like me were elected four months after mayors in other provinces started working,” Yadav said. “So we need to work harder to catch up.”