Rising above the highly prevalent social prejudice, Dalit candidate Nirpa Bahadur Od, 42, has recently been elected the mayor of Dhangadhi of Kailali district, the only sub-metropolitan city of province seven. With his victory, Od became the first Dalit mayor of a sub-metropolitan city in the country. Climbing the political ladder, however, was not easy as he faced lots of hurdles along the way. And his struggles began way before he got candidacy for the mayoral post.
Before securing a ticket from the Nepali Congress to contest the elections, Od faced frequent mocking from other aspiring contestants of the party due to his ethnic background and weak financial condition. They even went on to question him as a potential leader. Some went as far as telling him that they would not be able to respect him even if he emerged victorious in the elections, and that was if he could become a candidate in the first place.
For that very reason, another aspiring contestant Krishna Mahara was tipped to win the party candidacy for the mayoral post. However, Od eventually gained the favor of the party’s leadership due to his overwhelming popularity among the locals, especially the Dalit communities.
“He is ready to help anyone in trouble. Also, he is very polite and humble and that has made him popular among the voters,” said a local politician who knows the mayor very well.
Born in Accham district, Od’s childhood, much like his political journey so far, was full of struggles, like that of many others from the underprivileged community. His father worked in India as a security guard and later returned home. With the money he had managed to save up, the family opened a small hotel in Dhangadi. Od was once a shopkeeper as well. Rising from humble beginnings he has made it so far, but the newly elected mayor has a longer way to map out.