5 reasons why new Dharan mayor, Harka Sampang Rai, stands out

harka rai local election nepal 2078 dharan mayor Harka Sampang
File: Harka Sampang Rai. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

On Sunday, the Dharan sub-metropolitan city in eastern Nepal got its new mayor. The 39-year-old Harka Sampang Rai won the mayoral post of Dharan by securing 20,829 votes. If you are the one who is curious to know more about the newly elected mayor of Dharan, you have come to the right place here.

Unlike many other mayors in different big cities of Nepal, Harka Sampang Rai contested the election as an independent candidate. That is why he stands out. Besides, there are a few other interesting facts about Mayor Rai that we list below.   

1. Started as a campaigner 

For the last decade, Harka Sampang Rai has been a social activist in Dharan. He had been to Malaysia for a couple of years as a migrant worker. He joined the auto-rickshaw business and agriculture after returning to Nepal. And, later, he involved himself in various campaigns. His journey as a campaigner began with the Sardu Watershed Protection Campaign. 

Rai gained popularity among locals of Dharan during a campaign held for solving the problem of drinking water. Asian Development Bank initiated a project to solve the problem by digging a well in a nearby forest, and fetching water by pumping. Since the method could decrease the lifespan of the pump and also spend more electricity, the locals of Dharan objected to the project. Instead, they demanded the authority to fetch water from Koshi and Tamor rivers. Rai was in the vanguard of the movement.   

2. Alone in the election campaign

Unlike most of the candidates, Harka Sampang Rai’s electioneering was lowkey. He was seen holding his election campaign alone. There were no supporters behind him. Looking at his election campaign, probably nobody would have expected the result he brought. It seemed like he would secure the votes in just double digits, but things took a u-turn.

In one of his viral videos over social media, he is seen alone miking his visions and appealing for the votes.  Likewise, in another viral video, he is visiting the market area and distributing pamphlets that include his plans and visions, alone. 

3. Second time in the election 

This is Harka Sampang Rai’s second time being an independent candidate for the Dharan mayoral election. Earlier, in 2019, he contested independently in the by-election for the post held after the death of incumbent Tara Subba. In that election, Rai secured only 422 votes to get the fifth position. 

4. A man on the mission

Lately, Harka Sampang Rai has been highly centred on resolving the drinking water issue of Dharan. The city has been through a scarcity of drinking water for a long time, and now he wants to change things. He wanted to compete in the election with a symbol of a water tap, but as it was already appointed to somebody else, he was compelled to be recognised with the symbol of a stick during the election.   

5. Music enthusiast 

Harka Sampang Rai, the newly elected mayor, is also a good singer and guitarist. After he achieved the mayoral feat, his videos where he is seen singing alongside playing the acoustic guitar is going viral on social media. 

Those songs are composed and written by Rai himself.  This might be additionally good news for the musicians based in Dharan. 

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