"Young Contestants Will Win Polls"

UDAYA.S. RANA, president of Nepal Tarun Dal, is one of the dynamic members of Nepali Congress, who contested the elections from constituency No. 1 of Lalitpur. At a time when there is a lot of criticism against politics, Cornel University Graduate Ra

July 11, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -3 July 12- 2013 (Ashad 28, 2070)

Nepalese youths who studied abroad are showing apathy towards politics, what prompts you to join politics?

The fore and foremost reason is that I was influenced by my father and families. During the Panchayat time, my father used to tell me the stories about Nepali Congress and Gorkha Parishad, which was that time led by my uncle Bharat Sumsher.  Because of that I was always fascinated and in my heart I always had a feeling for politics. Over the period of time because of various factors I was given an opportunity to join politics. My father contested the elections from Lalitpur Constituency No 1 and during his elections campaign; I helped him while I was still a student. At that time I realized that it was very natural and easy for me to mix with local people. It came to me naturally.

When did you come to politics?

I completed my education and returned after getting a Master’s degree from Cornell University of USA at the age of 25. At that time Nepal was completely new for me specially the rural Nepal. However, over the period of time I have been able to adjust and I have done fairly well for myself in politics.

How do you see your party leaders?

My party leaders have been very good to me as I have been given enormous opportunity whenever there has been an opening. The first big opportunity was given to me by our leader late Kishunji who sent me in Italy to take part in the International Union of Socialist Youth. I took part in the convention in Italy. I was elected to the executive committee. After two years, Tarun Dal was formed and I wanted to get involved in politics and I wanted to be president of the district. It did seem to be impossible for me because I could not speak Nepali well. Then, Tarun Dal President Bal Krishna Khand who is my mentor made me the president. Despite so many people saying that I should not be made Tarun Dal president in my district, he made me the president. That gave me an opportunity to directly work at grass root level in the organizational platform.

How difficult was it for you to contest with those who have been in local politics for a long time?

When I came back, I wanted to do politics. Everyone thought that I was a son of well to do person and I cannot compete here. A lot of people thought in those lines. However, I was determined to make politics as my profession. Compared to most young generations, I have done quite well in politics for myself. Whether it is at the mass level in my district or constituency. Whether it is at the organizational level in my party or inside the Tarun Dal, I have contested many internal elections.  I have never lost and I have won most of the votes in any elections in my party organizations. In the last CA elections, I lost very narrowly, in a very difficult and unfriendly atmosphere. Yes it is difficult but due to my education background I do have advantage over others also. Every party needs educated people.

Politics is not a priority for educated young. Why did you join?

I am not a pessimist but I am a person who feels there is always some hope. Wherever there is instability, there is opportunity. I personally feel there is enough opportunity for young and educated people. There are a lot of people lobbying in my favor saying that well educated people are given enough opportunity. There is plus point as well as disadvantages.

How do you see the future of your party?
If you look at it, there is future for younger people. You cannot get opportunity just saying that you are young. You have to prove that you are better than the person above you. This is not hereditary system where older person finishes and younger joins. It is not like playing tennis or football where older can retire after certain time and young will replace him/her. In politics you have to beat and outperform the person who is above you. Younger people have to be able to pull the rug from under the feet of the older leader. For this, you should be able to do political move and work harder than old people.

Your take on the future of your party?

I think in the last elections, our party performed badly. I call the last election was a fluke election and unexpected results came out. The situation has changed now. Maoists were unable to fulfill their words and CPN-UML does not know where they stand ideologically. The situation is that the relevancy of CPN-UML has completely gone. In the coming elections, the elections will be contested between two fronts. One is democratic front and the other is leftist front. In leftist front, Maoists will take the lead and Nepali Congress will lead the democratic front. This was the honeymoon phase for leftists and terai based parties and their support base is waning.

How do you encourage younger generation people to get involved in politics?

Younger generation people need to do more. Not only the leaders give us more opportunity, we also do more as well. It is both ways. You cannot wait for somebody to give you seat. You have to fight for your seat and you have to work hard for your seat. No political leaders are going to give you gift or any such thing. You have to strive for it. As long as youth keep say the thing that we have not given opportunities, we are not going to succeed. Opportunity is something that is there. Oppurtunity is there and you need to get it. Nobody is going to give you in platter. If you want to eat the apple, you need to pluck it from the tree.

How do you see the future of young people?

At this moment of Nepal, we are the nation of young population and in the last elections what Nepali Congress did was the average age of NC candidate in 240 directly elected constituencies was 54. While for the Maoist, the average age was 33. That is the reason Maoists did very well. In the first democratic election in 1959, Nepali Congress won a two thirds majority because the average age of the candidate was low. Even B.P. Koirala was young or just 36 years old. After that in 1990, a lot of younger NC leaders were given the opportunity, we got a thumping majority.  And now in the present day, the voters between the age of 18 to 35 constitute almost 60 percent. So it is very natural for the younger people to look for a younger candidate. It was suicidal for Nepali Congress that it failed to provide the younger people. We will have advantages in case of younger people.

Don' t you think political instability is injecting sense of uncertainty in the mind of young?

What I would like to tell people is, in instability, there is opportunity. If you have a very stable system, the system becomes very high-ranking and everything is stable and opportunities are limited. Of course, there is political instability, economic problems and social upheavals and there is problem within all political parties. Majority of big parties have problems. Maoist, Terai party and CPN-UML have ideological problems. The only party which is clear on its ideology is Nepali Congress. So there is instability and there is a vacuum with a lot of opportunity. This is the best time for younger generation to join the politics. In a stable democracy and party, younger people will get nowhere. In a fluid situation, there are more opportunities. I would like to call the younger generation of educated people if you want to make a real difference by joining politics, this is the best time. I have no complaints within the party. I have been given a lot of opportunities and I have been able to get a lot of opportunities. After the split of the party, there were a lot of young people who came into prominence. I am not saying that party splitting is a good thing. It was terrible. What I mean is instability creates opportunities. It should not be looked at as the threat.

What do you suggest for economic development?

We should not mix economics and politics. They have to be put in different compartments. Political instability has created economic fluidity. Instability impacts economic development. If you look at Bangladesh, they have had a lot of problems for a longer period of time than Nepal. Policies are even worse. However, economy did not suffer there because economics was kept separate from politics. It is very important that economics and politics be separated. Why I am emphasizing that is every year there are 400,000 youth coming to employment market but only about 60,000 of them get the job in this country. Younger people who are coming to job market are not getting job. This is the reason many people are going abroad. For Nepalese to work in Nepal, we need to create great opportunities for young. For that we cannot rely on populist program but youth self employment. For them to work, there is the need to boost construction, business has to be flourished. Foreign investment has to come to market.  Since Madhav Nepal became the deputy prime minister, Nepal's economy started the downfall, mainly after he went to The World Bank and requested cancellation of Arun III project. Since then we are mixing politics and economics. We have to control the trade unions.  There is the need to take trade union and business hand in hand. Political parties have to agree that industries need to flourish. For this we need foreign investment. We need money to pump in hydropower and industries. I want to see the younger generation to go home and work.

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