The swearing-in ceremony on 30 May of the youthful new leadership of Kathmandu Metropolitan City was a sight to behold.
Out in front were Mayor Balen Shah, 32, and Deputy Mayor Sunita Dangol, 29 (pictured). The smug men from mainstream parties were standing behind the two. This is the Gen Next of Nepali politics, a symbolic handover of power from the past to the future.
As promised, Mayor Shah broadcast live to the public the first meeting of his city council. Chair Nabaraj Parajuli of Ward 32 told the mayor in a patronising and contemptuous tone: “Be careful what you say, you are all by yourself here.”
Introducing himself, Harilal Tandukar of Ward 11 did not like the meeting being live online, and said so derisively. Mukunda Rijal of Ward 16 yelled as if he was addressing a street rally.
It is natural that these endangered species of Nepali politics feel threatened by the youthful new leaders. If they use such disparaging language against a newly-elected mayor, how will they treat their electorate? All cities and municipalities should beam their council meetings live, so citizens know what the candidates they voted for are really like.
There were some ward chairs like Bhuvan Lama of #6 who were appreciative, and offered Shah and Dangol useful suggestions. And over in Lalitpur, re-elected mayor Chair Babu Maharjan was full of praise for the youthful new leadership of the city’s wards.
Having these transparent meetings has been welcomed by most, but it is understandable that elected candidates from traditional parties who have nothing to show for the past five years but mismanagement and malfeasance who do not like it. They are used to murky backroom deals.
Transparency is the beauty of democracy. By beaming live the first meeting, the new mayor showed citizens who is who.