How Balen Shah rapped the state of wrongdoings 

As Balen Shah leads the race for Kathmandu mayor, here is a look at the revolutionary impulse of his songs.

NL Today

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: Balen Shah has become the talk of the town as he has been leading the mayoral race in the Kathmandu Metropolitan City since the vote count started Saturday morning. Not much known to the public before the elections, Balen, however, was a popular voice among youths through his songs. Of all the songs, “Balidan” contains the frustration of the youths with dirty politics, corrupt politicians and many other things wrong with Nepal. 

The entire song is the refrain of what used to be the popular verses among the communist revolutionaries during the Panchayat era: Gaita badhiyo dhungrama mahi chhaina, garibako chameli boldine kohi chhaina (cows have been tethered but there is no milk in the wooden jar, and there is no one to speak on behalf of the poor). 

Balen goes on to expose the state of affairs of Nepali politics and society in his rap. He captures the sentiments of frustration that Nepali youths feel.

[Related: Is Balen Shah becoming a threat to major national political parties?]

“Those who ought to defend the country are failing to do so,” rues Balen. “Leaders are all thieves and they have been looting the country.” Using the sari as a metaphor, he says that the leaders have been urinating on the sari of their own mothers as if it were their underwear. Balen is angry that political leaders stand together when they have to mis(use) the state resources for their personal benefits. “They all get united when it comes to sharing the spoils but remain divided when it comes to doing something good for the country,” he decries. “Nangress, Nemale, Naubadi (allusion to Congress, UML and Maoist Center) together are eating up the country,” he sings. And they do so, according to the song, by bending the laws and rules of the land.

Balen also speaks about how the youths have been condemned to work in inhospitable conditions in the Gulf. “We have been the ones to lose our identities in the Gulf,” says Balen.

Balen then exposes how the government bureaucrats and civil servants are milking the state dry. “Their monthly salary is Rs 30,000 but they own lands in 30 different places,” says Balen in the song.  Then he talks about the state of the streets in Kathmandu. “The main streets of Kathmandu are full of potholes, they warm their pockets and cheat the banks.”

History has become old but nothing else has changed, says Balen. “Where will there be rail when one cannot even find a path? Forests have been cut down.  How will this country be built?”

Then Balen sings about why it is necessary for youths to speak up against wrongdoings. “Government, let me speak up, speaking up is not a crime. I am good at heart, I do not fear to speak the truth,” says Balen.

[Related: Balen’s Shah next battle]

Balen’s message is strong: There is nothing left to be said. Lord Buddha is a witness. When you destroy the buds what will blossom? Tears and blood on the lips, smile smell of gunpowder, there is a perennial conflict, where shall I look for peace? There is so much to say about the suffering and pains that I have lost words.

In another song entitled “Nepal Haaseko,” he says “I want to see Nepal smile, I want to see the hearts of Nepalis frolic in joy, I want to see Nepalis live with happiness.”

The question everybody is asking is will he be able to live up to this vision if he wins? Or will he continue to raise such voices in the same spirit in reality whether he wins or not?