Congress leaders shine shoes to showcase servanthoodA few Nepali Congress leaders showcased the concept of servanthood by polishing shoes of public at New Baneshwor in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
A few Nepali Congress leaders showcased the concept of servanthood by polishing shoes of public at New Baneshwor in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
The one-hour event organised under the auspices of the Krishna Prasad Bhattarai Pratisthan was held in Chakkhubakkhu Park with the title ‘Political Cleanse, Shoe Polishing Campaign’.
Nepali Congress leaders Dhan Raj Gurung, Chandra Bhandari, Binod Bhattarai and Panchthar Municipality Mayor Mahesh Kharel, among others, participated in the event that started at 9:30am. They termed their novel display as ‘political cleanliness’.
Citizens were surprised and curious to see political leaders doing this menial task. Some onlookers laughed at the leaders’ act while others clicked photos and filmed videos on their cellphones.
“We are used to seeing leaders hold microphones and give long speeches,” said Chandra Singh, a resident of Sankhamul. “It was a pleasant surprise to watch them polish shoes of pedestrians.”
Besides the public, the politicians shined shoes of some human rights activists and NC cadres. “Their hard work earned them Rs31,000,” said one of the event organisers.
Speaking to the Post about the purpose of the event, Pratisthan Chairperson Daman Nath Dhungana said, “Democracy means a life of dedication and loyalty, especially by leaders. It is now important to cleanse the dirt latent in politics; this is a symbolic gesture.”
Dhungana was the Speaker of the first House of Representatives after the restoration of multi-party democracy in 1990. The late Bhattarai headed the government that oversaw the drafting of the constitution that guided the new democratic era.
The leaders involved in the awareness event, told citizens that this initiative was a step towards bringing political ‘integrity’ among the leaders.
Their shoeshine act did not impress all bystanders, though.
Santa Bahadur Thapa, who filmed the activity, termed it a comical act. “What could be a bigger satire than this? What is the use of doing this just for a day? These politicians are here to polish shoes, but they are dressed as if they were going to a party,” he said.
“This is a tactic to overcome their loss in the recent elections,” said Thapa, who resides in Thapagaun.
The NC suffered a massive defeat in the recently held federal and provincial elections. The party has admitted that disunity among its members was the reason for its crushing defeat in the polls. The fallout of the defeat was youth leaders demanding a change in the NC leadership.
Some bystanders criticised the politicians’ act as a publicity stunt.
“Before the elections, they would rush to the fields and pretended to help farmers. Today they are acting like shoeshine boys just for a day,” said Shobha Shrestha.
The NC leaders’ one-hour act spread far and wide on the social media. It drew many negative comments online. Commenting on the photo on Facebook, Tham Bishwokarma criticised the leaders’ attires. While Hum Bahadur Gurung, commented, “But it can lead to something positive provided they are sincere.”
Mayor Kharel told people to take this symbolic act in a positive way. “During my youth, sage Bhattarai advised me to polish shoes and earn money to fund my education. He instructed us to polish shoes in crowded places like Baneshwor and New Road terming no work is ‘small.’ Honestly, I couldn’t do that because of the shame. Now we are making amends and reliving Bhattarai’s words of wisdom.”