Ujwal Thapa: From Web Designer to Change Maker.

Photo: Social Media

Prerana Timalsina,

In the decade of 2010, Nepal was entangled in continuous political tension and power play of the political parties as usual. Moreover, the country was heading towards the Constituent Assembly election. Injustice, corruption, discrimination, nepotism, dogmatic intolerance were to be faced in every step of every possible field. General strikes (Nepal Banda) were part of daily life. And who would be directly affected by these practices? The general public, of course, or the working group who relied on their daily wages for survival. From the midst of the chaotic mess, a ray of hope for Nepali rose with the concept of alternative politics. The glimmer of hope was none other than Ujwal Thapa. Ujwal stands for ‘bright’ in the Nepali language. As his name implies, Ujjwal brought a unique light to the old-aged political system of Nepal. Non-violent, peaceful, symbolic protests that are practiced today are undoubtedly the outcome of Thapa’s ‘Bibeksheel Nepali Movement.

While the political parties were pressurizing the government by organizing strikes and movements that would bring everyday life to a halt, Thapa came up with a new and creative idea of protesting peacefully with the slogan ‘Nepal Khulla cha ‘Nepal is open. He then gathered like-minded people who were also frustrated with the same old political game and willing to transform the country’s entire political system through youth energy and ideas and initiated the ‘Bibeksheel Nepali’ movement. The group grew every day. As a result, the faith of youths in politics was once again restored. 

But soon after Thapa’s Bibeksheel Nepali group launched various protests and movements, he realized babbling from the street, holding play cards with wise words are capable of bringing the general public to his support but aren’t enough to get the difference in the politics or change the political conduct of the country. This was when he decided to join mainstream politics and bring his dream of neat politics through the leadership of a ‘Bibeksheel’ Nepali (a wise Nepali or a Nepali with common sense) into proper shape. 

As a result, the Bibeksheel Nepali party was born, which later merged with the Sajha Party of Rabindra Mishra and unitedly formed ‘Sajha Bibeksheel Nepali.‘ Even though the political party couldn’t perform well on elections as expected or sometimes may have gotten quite distracted from its principles while swirling in the whirlpool of its own internal conflicts, we can’t deny the fact that Ujjwal Thapa was one shining star who brought a new wave in Nepali politics by reassuring the youths and reviving the long lost energy. 

Sadly, the shining star is no more with us in the physical world. According to the statement issued on behalf of his family and friends, Thapa breathed his last this Tuesday, June 1, 2021, in Mediciti hospital, Lalitpur, after struggling the battle with covid-19. His untimely demise at the young age of 44 has left people in absolute shock and sorrow. Netizens are pouring their condolences to the demised and warm thoughts to his family through social media. The outburst of people’s frustration regarding the inability of the government to control the pandemic is fueled by the unfortunate demise of Thapa. Social media is overflowed with the appreciation of Thapa’s ideology and political agendas. Although, isn’t it a bit too late for him to be able to reciprocate this acknowledgment? 

Thapa’s Journey of Self-evolution

Photo: Social Media

After completing his high school studies (O levels) from Budhanilkantha School, Kathmandu Thapa went to the country of dreams, the United States of America, for his higher studies. As he was a bright student and highly interested in astrophysics, he got a scholarship at his college. 

But life took a turn, and instead of becoming an astrophysicist, he returned to Nepal with Bachelor’s Degree from Bennington College, Vermont, US, as a web designer. According to his own writings, while living in the United States, he once became so disillusioned with the materialistic world that he almost turned to a Buddhist monk. Nonetheless, fate had a different plan for him. 

After returning to Nepal, Thapa became active in entrepreneurship and social service and started his own IT company; on the other hand, political instability in Nepal was at its peak. Although the first Constituent Assembly was formed, the constitution could not be released, which led to strikes and shutdowns every day. So Thapa formed a group on social media in 2065 BS for the ‘Campaign against Strike.’ This was the advent of the ‘Bibeksheel Nepali’ movement.

In the second Constituent Assembly election held in 2070 BS, Bibeksheel Nepali independently submitted its candidacy from four different election areas in Kathmandu. Thapa was the candidate for Election Area -5 of Kathmandu district, unfortunately, couldn’t receive enough votes to savor his victory. After the election, Thapa officially formed a political party named ‘Bibeksheel Nepali Party’ in 2071 BS which got massive public attention after Ranju Darshana, a young female leader, was raised as a mayoral candidate of Kathmandu Metropolitan City. 

After constant defeats in elections, Bibeksheel Nepali merged with the Sajha party to form a new party, the ‘Bibeksheel Sajha Party,’ which also couldn’t withstand its internal conflicts and later fragmented into their original form. 

Thapa later handed over the party’s leadership to Milan Pandey and took a step back from directly participating in political affairs. Bibeksheel Nepali once again got merged with Sajha Party a few months back only. 

Thapa’s Ripple Effect:

As we know that small pebbles thrown at a pond can also generate a bunch of vast waves in the water, Thapa’s initiation of youth campaigns and movements have been proven as an exemplary example of the ‘pebbles’ causing ripple effects on the vast ‘pond’ of Nepali politics. His noble aspirations, positive approach to the system, unique tactics of fighting with injustices, and fair political conducts remain forever among the hearts of Nepali despite his absence.