AJAYA BHADRA KHANAL
KATHMANDU: His political trajectory is a contrast to that of many politicians in Nepal.
When he completed his studies in the US, Ujjwal Thapa returned to Nepal and set up Digital Max Solutions. In the 10 years since then, the people who worked with him in the company have opened more than 25 IT companies on their own.
Somehow, Thapa was not content with the IT venture. “I thought that it was not enough to change the country,” he says. So five years ago he started Entrepreneurs for Nepal, a movement that has helped more than 13,000 people to run and operate businesses.
Even then, Thapa was not satisfied; he felt a longing to do something that ‘really mattered’.
“I believed that the citizens themselves must take responsibility to change their country,” he says. So he became part of Nepal Unites — movement seeking to bring a change. “The key message of the movement was that the citizens must be responsible and the leaders must be accountable,” he says.
After the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, he started an open forum called ‘Aba Ke Garne’ (Now what to do?). The weekly open forum has been running continuously for more than 70 weeks now. The forum’s continuity reflects Thapa’s doggedness.
Now, as he competes with political stalwarts like Narahari Acharya of the Nepali Congress and Ishwar Pokharel of the CPN-UML in Kathmandu Constituency No 5, there is also a competition between different political values.
He sees a difference between himself and his contenders.
Thapa has respect for NC’s Acharya for his contribution to republicanism. “His time had come. Now is my time. I know how to bring prosperity,” he says. Similarly, he thinks UML’s Pokharel has had a long political career but no real input. Also the other two candidates are nearing 60 while he is just 36 years. Thapa is not daunted. “You run for an election to win,” he says.
On being asked why people should vote for him, he says, “Because I am not a talker, I am a doer. That is what I will continue to do when I’m inside the system.”
Thapa has cast his election campaign in terms of the failure of the existing parties. In his campaigns, he does installations of pipe without water and wires without electricity. Then there is a rickshaw with a fat corrupt politician doing the rounds.
“There is a large group of undecided voters, and there is an equally large group of urban youth,” he says. “My job is to assure them that they have an honest alternative, someone who can really deliver.”