Balen’s approach: Inside the workings of Kathmandu’s Mayor « Khabarhub
Friday, July 19th, 2024

Balen’s approach: Inside the workings of Kathmandu’s Mayor


12 June 2024  

Time taken to read : 8 Minute


  • A
  • A
  • A

KATHMANDU: Balendra Shah (Balen), the Mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), brings a unique background to his role, being a structural engineer by profession and a former ‘rapper’ popular among music enthusiasts.

His journey to becoming the head of the metropolis was marked by an unexpected victory, defeating established political candidates in the 2022 local elections.

In a surprising turn of events, Balen secured victory as an independent candidate, triumphing over Nepali Congress candidate Srijana Singh and CPN-UML’s Keshav Sthapit, despite their long-standing political backgrounds.

Assigned the ‘stick’ election symbol by the Election Commission, Balen rose to prominence.

The son of Ram Narayan Sah and Dhrubadevi Sah, Balen gained recognition among the youth through events like ‘Rapper Battle’ before entering politics.

Since assuming office as the Mayor, he has garnered significant attention both within Nepal and among Nepali communities abroad.

Journalist Surendra Bajgai, who worked for an online newspaper during the local elections, now assists Balen in communication and coordinates urgent tasks within the metropolis.

Despite his presence on social media where he occasionally comments on political matters, targeting both old and new parties and leaders, Balen is known to be an introverted leader.

He rarely grants media interviews or speaks publicly, preferring to communicate through social media channels where he maintains accuracy in his communications, sparking discussions and debates.

Recently, social media has been buzzing with discussions about the Giribandhu Tea Estate scandal and clashes involving CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli, adding to the spotlight on Balen.

Despite winning independently without any party affiliation, Balen leads a team comprising ward chairmen and members of the metropolis, seemingly bringing everyone under his leadership.

Many are curious: how does Balen operate? With his solo victory, does he follow personal impulses or heed advisors? What exactly is Mayor Balen Shah’s team like?

Balen’s Personal Secretariat

Upon assuming office as the head of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Balen appointed Bhupdev Shah as his personal secretary. Bhupdev, who actively supported Balen during his election campaign, initially served on a contractual basis.

Since June 2022, Bhupdev has been Balen’s chief personal secretary, despite not being a relative.

He enjoys the services and facilities of an official (seventh-level). Hailing from the Shah family of Achham, Bhupdev came to Kathmandu for his studies.

Shortly after Bhupdev’s appointment, Balen named Navin Bhandari as Assistant Personal Secretary.

Originally from Gulmi district, he actively participated in Balen’s campaign during the local elections.

Mayor Balen has brought two close friends who assisted in his campaign into his secretariat.

Kumar Byanjankar, known as Kumar Ben from Lalitpur, serves as a management consultant. Sudeep Dhakal from Bhairahawa, an IT expert, works on plans and strategies.

According to secretariat sources, former Miss Nepal Anushka Shrestha has been appointed as a communication advisor, and Yadav Lal Kayastha as a heritage advisor.

For the educational sector within the metropolis, Balen has appointed Sasmit Pokhrel from Kathmandu Constituency No. 5, who also ran as a candidate in the local elections.

Sasmit, holding a BA-LLB from Kathmandu University, assists Balen in legal matters as well.

Dhiraj Joshi from Kanchanpur has been appointed to oversee all matters related to children, despite not being part of Balen’s election campaign. He also contributes to legal and educational affairs.

Journalist Surendra Bajgai, who worked for an online newspaper during the local elections, now assists Balen in communication and coordinates urgent tasks within the metropolis.

Binay Shakya supports Balen in multimedia tasks and holds the position of photographer in Balen’s private secretariat.

Advisors to Balen

Mayor Balen has assembled a team of unpaid consultants with diverse expertise to advise on significant decisions. According to sources, these advisors contribute to various areas:

Sunil Lamsal from Bhairahawa has been tasked with the entire responsibility of garbage management along with infrastructure consultation.

A member of the secretariat informed Khabarhub that Sunil Lamsal has been given the responsibility of managing Kathmandu’s garbage entirely.

Sunil is one of Mayor Balen’s close friends.

Most of Balen’s advisors come from the food sector. Former DG of Food and Quality Control Department, Jiwan Prabha Lama, Santosh Giri, and Chef Santosh Sah have been appointed as advisors in the food sector. Santosh Sah has also been appointed as a food ambassador.

Balen appointed Prof. Dr. Jagdish Agarwal as an unpaid health consultant, the former Dean of the Institute of Medical Studies (IOM).

Despite demands for Agarwal’s appointment as Dean of IOM based on seniority, Prof. Dr. Govind KC protested through a fast.

A member of Mayor Shah’s secretariat says, “Members and advisors in the secretariat should not meet the mayor without work. We don’t have crowded gatherings. Usually, meetings and discussions take place when there is work. The mayor will discuss with the person related to the subject to be discussed.”

Similarly, Balen has recruited a consultant for traffic management in the metropolis. Jagatman Shrestha serves as a traffic management consultant, appointed as a traffic expert advisor.

Jagatman is a former Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Nepal Police.

According to secretariat sources, former Miss Nepal Anushka Shrestha has been appointed as a communication advisor, and Yadav Lal Kayastha as a heritage advisor.

Balen’s Advisory Network

Advocate Om Prakash Aryal serves as Mayor Balen’s legal advisor, responsible for providing legal counsel and representing the metropolis in legal matters.

The secretariat mentioned that apart from Aryal, other advisors have not been paid. “All the advisors except Omprakash Aryal are unpaid,” said a member of Balen’s secretariat.

According to Mayor Shah’s secretariat, all members of the city’s urban planning commission are part of Balen’s ‘core team’.

Dr. Suman Narsingh Rajbhandari, Vice President of the Urban Planning Commission, has been appointed by Balen.

He has designated employees as subject experts within the commission.

The Mayor holds the legal authority to appoint all employees in the Urban Planning Commission of the metropolis, which works on the departmental planning of the city.

Metropolitan Chief Balen typically arrives at his office in Kathmandu Plaza before office hours and stays until after office hours. He dedicates most of his time to office work and avoids unnecessary external events.

A member of Mayor Shah’s secretariat says, “Members and advisors in the secretariat should not meet the mayor without work. We don’t have crowded gatherings. Usually, meetings and discussions take place when there is work. The mayor will discuss with the person related to the subject to be discussed.”

Publish Date : 12 June 2024 07:35 AM

Why are Bangladesh students protesting government job quotas?

DHAKA: Violence in Bangladesh has killed more than 30 people

Kaligandaki Corridor reopens after two-week landslide disruption

BAGLUNG: Vehicular movement along the Kaligandaki corridor has resumed today

19 more die in Bangladesh clashes as student protesters try to impose ‘complete shutdown’

DHAKA: Police in Bangladesh clashed with student protesters attempting to

Ambassadors find themselves embroiled in political shakeup

KATHMANDU: Typically, governments provide advance notice when recalling ambassadors, following

Economic Digest: Nepal’s Business News in a Snap

KATHMANDU: Economic Digest offers a concise yet comprehensive overview of