“Nepalganj voted for me because people wanted me to continue what I had started in my first tenure as mayor, they remembered,” Rana tells us.
Detractors say Dhawal Rana is not corrupt because he does not need to be. However, there are not too many other Ranas with old money who have gone into politics to bring change. In these cynical times, he is rare proof that honesty does pay.
Dhawal Rana says wryly: “In my first tenure, the contractors did not believe I was not corrupt. This time, no one believes I am corrupt.”
As Rana drives his Safari SUV through Nepalganj’s main street, locals recognise him and wave or walk over to chat. When powerful local businessmen refused to allow road-widening, he took them to court, won, and bulldozed their shopfronts. His 90km road upgrade is an ADB-supported project, and already Nepalganj’s streets are much better than those in Kathmandu.
Rana says his biggest challenge is that people are impatient, and want overnight improvement. There is no dearth of money, he says, but Kathmandu still controls the purse-strings and that delays projects.
Rana wants to retire after mayorship, but does not rule out joining national politics if the triangular tussle within the RPP leadership is resolved. Asked what he wants most of all, Mayor Rana replies simply: “Less interference from Kathmandu.”
Published Date:September 7, 2018