Kathmandu Mayor Balendra Shah (Balen) has once again thrust himself into the limelight, and it’s as if he’s the star of a never-ending soap opera. Since late Saturday evening, he’s been popping up everywhere, from casual tea-shop banter to highbrow intellectual debates. Newsrooms have morphed into Balen-themed bingo parlors, and trust me, the stakes are high!
So, what’s the entire hubbub about? It’s none other than Mayor Balen’s latest Facebook status:
“Let’s leave it for today,
But starting tomorrow, if the government stops any Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) vehicle, I’ll set Singha Durbar on fire.
Remember this, you thieving government.”
The public is split right down the middle. Some folks are cheering, “He’s the hero we need!” while others are shaking their heads, possibly wondering if the mayor’s been binging too many South Indian action movies. Most seem to be firmly in the “Balen’s got more guts than a trapeze artist” camp, while political party supporters have lovingly crowned him “Mayor Mayhem.” Some are even suggesting his latest outburst is the popcorn-worthy drama of the year, while others ponder if he’s secretly auditioning for a role in a South Indian superhero blockbuster!
Balen’s Facebook status set the internet on fire, hotter than a jalapeño pizza! In just a few hours, it amassed more likes and love reacts than the swarms of revelers at the recently-concluded gaijatra parades – that’s over 400,000 thumbs-ups, folks! The comment section was a veritable monsoon of opinions, with over 100,000 people chiming in. And as for shares? Well, it spread quicker than a juicy piece of palace gossip at a royal tea party, hitting a whopping 40,000 plus shares! Clearly, Balen’s Facebook account is the hottest ticket in town, rivaling the allure of free momo coupons!
Reportedly, Mayor Balen’s recent “anger eruption” was triggered by an incident involving a Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) vehicle carrying his wife. She was en route to a hospital where their newborn daughter was receiving NICU treatment when the vehicle was halted by traffic police, turning Mayor Balen into a one-man fireworks display!
According to media reports, the police stopped the vehicle carrying the mayor’s wife to investigate its use on a public holiday. However, the mayor’s secretariat issued a statement claiming that the police stopped the vehicle carrying Mayor Shah’s wife, Sabina Kafle, who had recently given birth. They accused the police of creating unnecessary hassles and treating them like criminals, adding that she was rushing to the hospital for a postpartum emergency. The statement chastised the police for their lack of sensitivity and called for the home administration to take notice.
Yet, in the blink of an eye, some “analysts” managed to spin this tale into a grand epic. They compared it to the wars of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, suggesting that Balen’s outrage was akin to Lord Ram’s battle for Sita and the Pandavas’ revenge against the mistreatment of Draupadi, their wife, by the Kauravas. It’s almost as if they forgot that Mayor Balen is not trying to rewrite the classics but simply trying to be a concerned husband and father!
Having said that, it’s no secret that Mayor Balen has a penchant for stirring controversy, and this latest incident is just another chapter in that. Just a few months ago, he boldly declared, “When it comes to our nation’s independence and sovereignty, I won’t bow down to any law or court!”
The saga began when Patan High Court issued a short-term interim order against Mayor Balen’s decision to ban the screening of Indian films in Kathmandu’s cinema halls. His stance was that the ban would persist until the makers of the Indian film ‘Adipurush’ corrected a dialogue that referred to ‘Sita as the daughter of India.’ An apology was issued by the movie’s writer, expressing regret if the film had hurt the sentiments of the Nepali people but stopping short of acknowledging Sita’s Nepali origin.
And as expected, Mayor Balen was not satisfied. In a Facebook post, he declared, “When it comes to our country’s sovereignty and independence, I won’t yield to any law or court. The film’s writer asserted that Nepal was under Indian occupation, revealing their true intentions. If the Nepali Government dismisses this as a mere stunt and if the court allows the screening of this film, it implies that Nepal is under Indian domination, reducing the court and government to mere puppets. I’m prepared to face the consequences, but I won’t budge on the matter of screening Hindi films.”
And let’s not forget last April when Mayor Shah pulled off a garbage stunt of epic proportions. He ordered KMC staff to leave Singha Durbar’s trash on its doorstep, teaching the federal government a lesson in waste management – quite literally!
Was his wife or new-born daughter at stake then? Clearly not!
The truth is, Mayor Balen can throw shade at the government, slap on the “thief” label, and watch as hundreds of thousands hit the “like” and “love” buttons on his Facebook wall. Why? Because he’s not alone in thinking that most of those government folks are the modern-day Robin Hoods, but instead of robbing from the rich to give to the poor, they’re robbing the state coffers in broad daylight for themselves and their near and dear ones. These so-called top politicians, they take turns running the show, and it’s like a never-ending game of “Scams R Us.” They protect each other from pointing fingers like it’s their full-time job.
And let’s not forget about our dear Prime Minister, who’s been accused of sticking his hand into the national cookie jar. Yes, you heard it right, folks, it’s the ‘Maoist cantonment scam’ and the ‘Ncell tax scam’ starring none other than our Prime Minister. Our PM has even landed a leading role in a criminal case, although the court’s schedule is about as mysterious as a magician’s hat. It’s like trying to figure out where the rabbit disappears to, only in this case, it’s the truth that seems to vanish into thin air!
Similarly, when Mayor Balen warns about torching Singha Durbar (the Palace of Lions), he’s basically saying, “Look, folks, it’s the grandest corruption headquarters in the country. Clever foxes, not lions, have taken over for years!” He’s hip to the fact that most of the folks filling those fancy chairs at Singha Durbar, under the guise of ‘Loktantra’ (democracy) and ‘Lok sewa’ (Public Service), have corruption running through their veins. They’re the main characters in this sad tale of our nation’s misfortunes.
The public has deciphered Mayor Balen’s true intentions, and he certainly has the audacity to openly critique Indian dominance against Nepal. He even has the courage to cancel an official visit to China on the eve of departure, just because China wouldn’t acknowledge Nepal’s latest political map – the “chuchche naksa” incorporating Lipulekh, kalapani and Limpiyadhura. Meanwhile, our prime minister is counting down the days until his third PM-China visit, as if it were the grand finale of a reality show!
That’s precisely why the people cut Mayor Balen some slack, no matter how brutally blunt he can be at times. They rally behind him and cheer for him, just as they do when he takes the stage at rap battles, even when he delivers controversial statements.
But, here’s a friendly reminder for Mayor Balen: while you’re busy slinging words, it wouldn’t hurt to keep things chill. Anger doesn’t usually work miracles; it’s more like a bull in a china shop (pun fully intended). Mayor Shah, you can keep up the good work and stay cool as a cucumber.
So, take a deep breath, Mayor Saap, and just, you know, cool down – figuratively and literally!