Balendra Shah, a Nepali rapper, was elected mayor of Kathmandu on Friday after defeating candidates from traditional political parties in local elections as an independent candidate. Balen, a 32-year-old rapper, is the first independent candidate to win in Kathmandu Metropolitan City, and he will serve as mayor for the next five years.
The Elections Commission announced the election results two weeks after polling took place on May 13 in six metropolitan cities, 11 sub-metropolitan cities, 276 municipalities, and 460 rural communit
Balen's strong message that Kathmandu may be transformed into a livable and thriving city has piqued the interest of many voters. Other municipalities have expressed their desire for a Balen in social media posts. Despite the fact that the independent candidate has swept social media, Nepal's national press has largely ignored him until his vote total has begun to rise.
In the days leading up to the election, it was evident that the 'Balen Phenomenon' was more than just a social media craze. Even those who are known to vote for established political parties indicated they voted for the rapper and activist.
Balen Shah had a very different electoral strategy. His campaign used social media more than any of the others, which boosted his chances in a city like Kathmandu, where the population is generally youthful and social media aware. Popular social media groups such as Routine of Nepal Banda and Men's Room Reloaded supported Shah in his campaign, which aimed to appeal to the youth.
Traditional parties spent a lot of money on election campaigns, even feeding their party workers Raksi-sukuti, while Balen Shah ran his campaign without any donations or expenses. In fact, he was mocked as an internet candidate, with most of his supporters being online trolls or non-voters from beyond the Kathmandu valley. The reality, on the other hand, is quite different. Shah appears to have been able to mobilize a huge number of non-traditional voters (young people) through digital channels.
Except for his rap career and his job as a structural engineer during the 2015 earthquake, Shah did not have much of a track record. Rather, he drew on his intellectual skills to offer practical strategies and solutions. Traffic and waste control were two of his major concerns. To alleviate the waste problem, he advocated alternative timetables for different work sectors and improved public transportation to control traffic, as well as separation at source and dialogue with dumping site neighbors.
Rather than offering large-scale infrastructure such as metros, Shah concentrated on improving health facilities, strengthening ambulance management, and delivering free health examinations to the elderly at home. He also pledged to improve public school and vocational education, an area that politicians rarely discuss.
Shah, too, did not advocate any new challenges, instead proposing practical solutions to current public concerns. Rather than making empty promises, he provided specific plans and a preliminary budget to address concerns such as traffic, pollution, and garbage.
It is crucial to note, however, that the same rhetorical methods may not work in many situations. It's all about kairos in rhetorical words, which is the art of saying and doing the right thing at the right time in the right place. All three examples above, however, have one thing in common: advocacy for the people's immediate needs, not just promises, but specific plans for action. Candidates should avoid attempting to sell something that cannot be done, as well as bringing up topics that are too abstract and serve simply as distractions.
The Balen Phenomenon has revealed the gap between Nepali society and the mainstream media. A small group of individuals control the press, and a small group of people own it. Balen's generation, like the media they govern, has no time for them.
A new message is spreading: Nepalis must venture ahead on their own, rather than relying on conventional parties and media that have never reflected their ambitions and aspirations.
The supremacy of the few individuals who dominate politics, culture, and knowledge is about to be blown away by a hurricane.