The Kathmandu Post, Binod Tripathi, 8th May 2017, Mustang
Gyanendra Bista has worked as the secretary of the village development committee at Lo Manthang, Mustang for 32 years.
Now he is vying for the post of chairman of the village council in the local election scheduled for May 14.
A nephew of Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista, the last king of the former Himalayan Kingdom of Mustang, he is representing the CPN-Maoist party.
“I if win the election, I will help the development of the district,” he said during an election rally. One of his key election pledges is the development of the Korala border point on the Nepal-China border.
“I will open Korala Pass to connect our area with our ancestral lands.” If the pass comes into operation, a lot of infrastructural problems in Mustang will be solved, he said. “The pass will bolster Mustang’s education, health, transport and businesses, among other sectors.”
Likewise, almost all the candidates vying for different posts in the local election have promised to construct a road connecting the northern neighbour in their attempt to attract votes.
Another candidate for the post of village council chairman in Lo Manthang is Indradhara Bista, who is also a nephew of the late king of Mustang.
He is the in-charge of the fair in Korala which is held twice a year. The residents of Upper Mustang trade daily essentials at the fair.
“In order to make Lo Manthang an important hub for trade and business, it is important to open the Korala Pass,” said Indradhara Bista who has joined the election as an independent candidate.
Subarna Kumar Bista of the Nepali Congress, another candidate for the post of chairman, also has been luring voters with his agenda to open the pass to develop Mustang.
The race for the chairmanship is close, and candidates have been trying to lure voters with their development plans and ideas rather than just presenting their party’s ideology.
There are 1,700 voters in Lo Manthang.
Gharap Jhong is another important village in Mustang whose importance is highlighted by the fact that the district headquarters of Jomsom falls under this region.
The electoral race here too has heated up. Candidates have been talking about developing the Kali Gandaki Corridor, one of Nepal’s national pride projects, which connects the northern and southern border points.
A 225-km road linking Gaindakot and Baglung and another 190-km road linking Baglung and Korala along the corridor will be the shortest route connecting India and China.
Nepali Congress candidate Bijaya Hirachan said that he would lobby with his party to open Korala Pass.
“I will make sure that the pass is built at the earliest,” he said, adding that the pass was not only Mustang’s pride, but also of the country.”
Bishal BK of the CPN-Maoist stated that the pass should open, and trade should be conducted in a full-fledged way through this pass.
This village with 1,468 voters usually sees a tough clash between the three major parties.