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Meeting with Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai, former Priminister and an eminent intellectual of the country.

It has been quite some time that I did not have the occasion to meet Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai who happens to be my old friend. We met in Chandigarh Punjab way back in 1976 when he was doing his undergraduate BE at Punjab university, and I was doing my undergraduate BSc. Ag at Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana. We were involved in the establishment of the All-India Nepalese Students Association. Interestingly, I was the chief election commissioner of that historic event that resulted in the formation of the first executive committee under the presidentship of Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai. We all worked very hard to elect the first executive committee unanimously. He was the first unanimously elected president of this organization. Even though he was non-political at the time, his journey to politics started from this organization.

This organization came into existence under a very different and difficult circumstances. That was the time BP Koirala, the first elected priminister of Nepal, decided to return to Nepal from India due to Indira Gandhi’s political hobnobbing with Royal Palace and her ill treatment of BP (It is being said that Gandhi told BP she would not allow any activity in India against monarchy in Nepal and it is better for him and his party to return to Nepal). At that time there were large number of Nepali youths approximately 50000-55000 studying in India more than 20000 in Vanarash alone. From eastern hills and Terai Madesh area, large number of Nepali students were enrolled in Vanarash University, Calcutta and Patana universities. It was physically more accessible and cheaper than pursuing studies in Kathmandu.

It is believed that Panchayat hardliners headed by Damodar Samsher and likes feared that before NC try to politically influence this youth force, they must organize this youth force under the banner of the King and Nationality. It was the motivation behind the involvement of Nepali Embassy in New Delhi for the formation of this organization. Very few delegates who participated in Chandigarh Congress knew this.

Embassy wanted to elect the leadership that was loyal to Royal Palace under the banner of Nationality. We didn’t have any idea about the composition of delegates, but I believe almost half, or slightly more were politically neutral. We, very few including some friends in Chandigarh, tried our best to elect unanimously under an acceptable candidate. We told embassy cultural attaché that if there was election, then the outcome would be contrary to their expectation. Therefore, it is best in their interest to find an unanimously acceptable candidate under whose leadership executive committee can be formed. We put forward Babu Ram jeep and conducted a series of consultations and dialogues with the delegates and finally unanimously elected the first executive leadership of this organization. Embassy officials came to know that the leadership of the organization was contrary to their expectation after a year or so when Babu Ram jee issued a statement denouncing Royal government for its inhumane treatment of BP Koirala in Nepal. When I met Babu Ram jee today, we briefly revisited this historical event that actually paved the way for his political journey to where he is now from where he started.

In today’s meeting we talked about contemporary politics of Nepal and how he envisaged the development of this country. He expressed his frustration and disappointing view on the role of the intellectuals of this country especially their blind allegiance to the interest of their parties, being unable to rise above the party interests for the greater cause and the interest of the country.

In this short meeting, we exchanged our books. I wanted to present him my newly released book on Global environmental and climate crises driven by current excessive growth oriented global political economy that is operating beyond planetary boundary and Earth’s regenerative biocapacity. I believe he is one of the very few intellectual who finds time to read and reflect on serious matters.

Babu Ram jee is certainly the visionary leader. Every once in a while, he comes up with new ideas and vision but there are others who take advantage of and capitalize on them. This is what happened when he was in Maoist party, and when he proposed ‘Socialist Center’ again he was pushed out from this. No matter what happens, he is an intellectual to be reckoned with. I wish him every success in his political endeavor.

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