Pledges to spend the 'new life' serving others
GORKHA, May 20: When the Maoist insurgency was at its peak, an incident of February 8, 2001, had shaken everyone who had seen the condition of Rajan Raj Panta, the newly-elected mayor of Gorkha Municipality.
On that fateful day, Panta was on the way to Gorkha Campus to attend a discussion regarding holding election of the Free Student Union (FSU) on February 25 that year. When he was on the campus premises when the Maoist rebels mercilessly beat him up and critically injured him.
Deependra Shrestha, Panta's colleague and eyewitness of the incident, still recalls the incident that brings chills down his spine. “Maoists beat him so much that his face and body parts were unrecognizable due to the scars and injuries. Only after he was assumed dead did the attackers stop beating him and then threw him away.”
His index finger of the right hand was cut off. Those who saw his horrendous act did not think that Panta would survive. He, however, survived the near-death experience and has been living a 'new life' ever since. The very same man is now the mayor of Gorkha municipality of Gorkha district.
Panta, now 40, had entered politics in 1991. And since the past decade, he has been handling the responsibility of Gorkha Municipality Chief of Nepali Congress (NC). Brave and determined, he has proven his leadership skills and believes in opportunity for youths. He advocates for change through youths.
“I have dedicated my life to serving others selflessly. So far, I have not taken advantage of my political position,” Panta told Republica after winning the position of mayor of Gorkha in the local elections held on May 14. “I had almost died after being attacked by the Maoists. After the incident, I have been living a new life. All these extra days of my life will be spent serving others.”
In the municipality, about 19,000 votes were cast to determine its mayor. When the vote counting was underway, it was not easy to predict the winner as the competition between NC, CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) was really tight. At the end, Panta secured victory after receiving almost 1,000 more votes than his closest competitor.
After the victory, Panta said he now has bigger responsibilities. True enough, he has responsibility to look after 14 wards of the municipality where over 30,000 people reside. “I have to ensure that everyone, from Taple VDC to Yangdi of Deurali, experience the development in its true sense.”
The mayor plans to provide employment to youths of the municipality so that they would not have to go elsewhere for jobs. Likewise, he said providing access to safe drinking water, road facilities, and sewage lines among other necessities even to rural areas would be his other priorities.
Likewise, he also shared his ambitious plan to develop Gorkha as a tourist destination. As residents of Gorkha have huge expectations from him, he plans to work for making the municipality prosperous by involving political parties, voters and the residents.