Kathmandu: As a politician, Gagan Thapa stands out from others—with his personality traits as a leader—open, bold and visionary.
Gagan Thapa emerged in Nepal’s politics in the wake of the people’s peaceful movement in 2006, popularly known as the April uprising. Since then, Gagan Thapa has been proving to be a glimmer of hope for Nepalis.
In many ways, Gagan Thapa has revolutionized Nepali politics which is why he is known as a leader with vision and conviction. Since 2006, he has never failed to inspire a new generation to work toward the goal of achieving a ‘prosperous nation and dignified citizens’.
In contemporary Nepal, people have great faith in his leadership. And this goes beyond any particular age group, class, caste, geography, and other aspects.
Two decades in politics, Gagan has always looked up as a hope whenever people see that things are not going in the right direction. People criticize him, question him, appreciate him, and ask him to provide his vision on a range of issues. That’s because, most of the time, people remember him as a leader who can address their plight, grievances and questions.
And the trust in him is not limited to a particular class, age group, geography, gender or profession. In that sense, he has ignited hope among Nepali people of all walks of life.
The campaigners of ‘Generation Gagan’ attribute widespread support from people, youths, and intellectuals for Gagan Thapa to hope and trust in the man who has been consistently raising people’s issues.
“This is the main theme of Generation Gagan, in short Gen-G,” shares Raghav Krishna Gautam, a youth who is currently working in Gagan’s team as a campaigner.
Gagan Thapa, a leader filled with enthusiasm and ambition, has always stood as a ray of hope for ordinary people of this country after Nepal became a republic, says Pratap Paudel, an advisor to Thapa. “He is always ahead of others to bring forward his vision for the country on political, social or economic issues,” he said. Paudel says that Gagan Thapa’s appeal goes beyond a particular age group. “In fact, his vision unites all Nepalis. This is the crux of the Generation Gagan campaign,” he said.
According to Raghav Krishna Gautam, people of all generations have put faith in Gagan Thapa. Generation of our grandparents has a hope with Gagan Thapa. Our parents look up to him for change. He has become a leader of all generations and all walks of lives,” Raghav shared. “This shows that Gagan stands out tall and people are with him.”
All for Gagan, Gagan for all
Several factors have contributed to the momentum of Gagan’s campaign. Today, Gagan has emerged as a symbol of reforms against the deep-rooted malpractices within the party and in the political system.
This may be the reason, teachers, doctors, advocates, actors, intellectuals, economists, students and people in general are endorsing him. Senior advocate Krishna Prasad Bhandari has publicly endorsed him. He described Thapa as a competent, popular leader who works according to the aspirations of people. “He is a rebel by nature,” he said.
Swarnim Wagle, who for long has been advocating policy and governance reforms and who is himself a popular icon among the educated mass and who is looked up as a leader capable of leading the socio-economic transformation of the country, recently described Gagan Thapa as a ‘statesman in the making.’ Wagle sees Gagan as the prime minister of the country in the near future. Hari Sharma, a public intellectual and political scientist, says that it is necessary for leaders like Gagan Thapa to win election because he is the one who can instill hope in people who are frustrated with politics. “It is necessary for leaders like Gagan to win to change the jun jogi aae pani ustai [all leaders are incompetent] mindset,” he tweeted recently.
Why such an endorsement for one particular leader among all others? According to Pratap Poudel, Gagan’s advisor, Gagan Thapa, together with Narahari Acharya, waged the battle for republic in Nepal for the first time, winning the hearts and minds of people across generations. When Gagan Thapa strongly raised voice against KP Oli’s move of dissolving parliament, people saw that Gagan Thapa still had that spirit, said Poudel. Gagan Thapa has been continuously raising the concerns of the common people, which is why he is popular among all, said Poudel.
Man of the people
Nearly two decades have passed since Gagan Thapa first raised the issue of republic in the streets. The generation of the early 2000s are among today’s voters. They also look up to Gagan Thapa as their representative.
According to the Generation Gagan campaigners, this is the result of Gagan’s relentless leadership in raising people’s concerns. Even while the context has changed, and with it some political agendas, the relevance of Gagan Thapa has not changed. “In case of any incident of injustice anywhere in Nepal, people first remember Gagan Thapa,” said Poudel. Gagan has been at the forefront of social revolution. “Be it during the hunger strike for reforms in health and medication sector by Dr Govinda KC, or enough is enough campaign or rage against rape campaign and movement against discrimination against the Dalits, people look for Gagan Thapa’s participation and support,” Poudel said.
His nine months’ stint as the Health Minister in 2016 and his attempts to hold the government accountable during the Covid-19 and dengue outbreak further established him as the man of the people.
Gagan Thapa is no-nonsense leader when it comes to speaking in parliament. He raises an issue, speaks on facts and data and questions the leaders in power. During the movements for social change and reforms, one sees him in the streets.
Why Generation Gagan
Ever since Gagan Thapa became visible in the political scene two decades ago, there has been no going back for the youth leader. His popularity rating remains steady. “This is because people have hope in him and they believe that he will be able to address their concerns. Which is why we also want him to lead this country. This is the voice of Generation Gagan, the campaigners say.
After Gagan Thapa projected himself as the future prime minister, it has instilled hope among even those people and communities who otherwise are not interested in politics, according to Gautam. “He is the one who can lead and represent people of all castes, communities, ethnicity and age groups,” Gautam said. “Generation Gagan is for entrusting Gagan Thapa for the development of this country under his leadership,” Gautam concluded.