Born in a lower middle class-peasant family on June 18, 1954, in Belbas, Khoplang VDC, Gorkha district, Baburam Bhattarai is currently the first Finance Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. A senior leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Bhattarai is widely recognized for his political and intellectual activism. Popularly addressed as 'Dr. Bhattarai', he also has a fascinating family background that is unknown to many. The Bhattarais were traditional priests and astrologers to the Sen Kings of Palpa who were known to have migrated to Liglig area of Gorkha around 15th century AD. Interestingly, one Gajanan Bhattarai, along with Ganesh Pandey and others, was instrumental in installing Drabya Shah as the King of Liglig and Gorkha. One branch of the same Bhattarai lineage remained in Belbas, in the foothills of Liglig kot, as peasants. It was here, in the mid-hills of Nepal, that Baburam Bhattarai was born to Bhoj Prasad Bhattarai and Dharma Kumari Bhattarai. He was the second son in a family of an elder sister, a younger brother and a younger sister. In an ironical twist of history, 240 years after the establishment of the Shah dynasty in which the Bhattarais played an important role, a member of the same Bhattarai lineage was to become instrumental in abolishing the feudal monarchy. Today, Baburam Bhattarai is widely known as one of the architects of the chain of political events that led to the establishment of a Republic Nepal.
Although widely known as the 'Always First' or the 'Never Second' man, there were good chances that Bhattarai would have remained uneducated like many of the rural Nepalis. Born in a remote village of one of the poorest countries in the world where formal education was limited to the traditional urban elites, Baburam Bhattarai in his early childhood received informal education from a retired army soldier, Bhakta Bahadur Bhujel. It was only when the United Mission to Nepal opened Amar Jyoti High School in Luitel village, two-hour walking distance from Belbas, that Bhattarai's formal education began in the year 1963. Ever since getting enrolled in grade 3, Bhattarai stood out as a bright student, scoring first position throughout his school life. In 1970 he made the headlines for topping the national-level School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examinations, till then unimaginable from a remote village school. He then pursued his Intermediate in Science from Amrit Science College in Kathmandu where he once again excelled and became the only person till date to top two consecutive national exams. In 1977, under the Colombo Plan, Bhattarai completed his Bachelors in Architecture (Hons.) from Chandigarh, India. It was in the library of Punjab University, that Bhattarai, who would spend hours reading books on great scientists and philosophers, first got introduced to the works of Kant, Marx and Che among others. In 1979, he went on to complete his Masters in Town and Country Planning (Hons.) with specialization in Urban and Regional Planning, from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. It was here that he met and married Hisila Yami, also a daughter of a prominent scholar-politician from Kathmandu. In 1986, Yami gave birth to a daughter, Manushi, now 22 years old. That same year, Bhattarai obtained his PhD degree in Regional Development Planning, from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. His thesis titled— 'The Nature of Underdevelopment and Regional Structure of Nepal' was later published as a book. As an observant child who knew his own uncle to be a fraudulent usurer, Bhattarai started expressing his discomfort against existent injustice and inequality through story-writing in school. Politically conscious but not an activist in his early college days, he soon found himself in the midst of anti-monarchy activities of banned political parties after the royal coup of 1960. In 1977, he became the Founder President of the All India Nepalese Students Association. In India, he came in contact with top political leaders of Nepal like B.P. Koirala, Tulsi Lal Amatya, Mohan Bikram Singh, Rishikesh Shah, etc., and plunged headlong into democratic politics. In 1980, he got arrested for the first time by the Indian police while demonstrating black flag against King Birendra visiting New Delhi. In 1981, Bhattarai became member of the Communist Party of Nepal through Mohan Bikram Singh. Subsequently, he became active in organizing migrant Nepali workers in India through All India Nepalese Unity Society (1979-1986). Between 1977 and 1986 he became the Editor of Janamanas and Nepali Ekta published from India. After completion of his formal education, he returned to Nepal in 1986 and became full-time party cadre and political activist. He was arrested twice, in 1986 and 1988, by the royal regime. From 1986 to 1991, he was the Chief Editor of Jhilko (Monthly). During the anti-Panchayat people's movement of 1990, Bhattarai was the Central Spokesperson of United National People's Movement, a coalition of CPN (Masal), CPN (Mashal), Proletarian Labour Organization and other left groups. Post-1990, his political activism only intensified against, in is own words, 'the weaknesses and limitations of the chronically infirm parliamentary system after 1990'. He was arrested and jailed in 1994 by the so-called democratic government. Since 1991, Bhattarai has played an instrumental role in shaping the revolutionary path of communist movement in Nepal as a Politburo Member of CPN (Unity Centre) and later of CPN (Maoist). Between 1991 and 2001, he was also the President of United People's Front. During the People's War, he remained underground from 1996 to 2006, and led the revolution in different fronts. He has been the Convener of the United Revolutionary People's Council, a shadow People's Government, since 2001. In 2003, he led the Negotiating Team of CPN (Maoist) for peace dialogues. He is widely acknowledged as one of the architects of the Joint People's Movement of 2006 and as a key negotiator of Comprehensive Peace Accord signed in November 2006. In the first ever Constituent Assembly elections held in April 2008, Nepali people once again established him as the 'Always First' figure, by electing him from Gorkha constituency no. 2 with the highest number of votes and highest margin against the nearest rival (46,272 votes against 6,143; nearly 82% of the votes). In the subsequently formed government, headed by Prachanda, Baburam Bhattarai has been serving as the Finance Minister since August 22, 2008 (Bhadra 6, 2065 BS). Bhattarai writes frequently in national dailies, weeklies and journals. His writings often create a stir in the political circles of Nepal and are able to grab the attention of Nepali people and those abroad as well. He has a number of publications in Nepali to his credit. His publications in English include – Nepal: 1.A Marxist View (Jhilko Publications, Kathmandu, 1996) 2.Politico-Economic Rationale of People's War in Nepal (Utprerak Publications, Kathmandu, 1998) 3.The Nature of Underdevelopment and Regional structure of Nepal: A Marxist Analysis (Adroit Publishers, Delhi, 2003) 4.Monarchy vs. Democracy: The Epic Fight in Nepal (Samakaleen Teesari Duniya, New Delhi, 2005) Hundreds of articles in reputed journals and newspapers (Both in National and International for more information please visit www.baburambhattarai.com