Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai’s Political Journey

Interview News Politics

The walker desk: The government has appointed Nepal Communist Party (NCP)’s leader Yogesh Bhattarai as the minister of culture, tourism and civil aviation.

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari administered the oath of office and secrecy to Bhattarai at the president’s office, on July 31.

The post of tourism minister had been vacant for almost five months since the demise of the then tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari in a chopper crash.

Bhattarai has committed to continue with the work and keep up with the expectation of the Nepalese people and sincerely follow up with the pending workload.

Here is the details about his political struggle right from his student life.

Family

Yogesh Bhattarai was born on 6 September 1966 at Sangu (Maiwakhola Remote Municipality-3), Taplejung district to mother Mahendra Devi Bhattarai and father Bhim Lal Bhattarai. Leader Bhattarai was the second last child among the five siblings. He has three elder sisters, one elder brother and a younger sister. He belongs to a middle-class family. His father passed away when he was only two years old. His father was a social worker. He father used encourage people to establish new schools in the remote villages with the aim of spreading the light of education. He even supported the schools financially and encouraged the children to go to school. In 2008 BS he had donated 20 thousand Indian rupees to Trimohan School; one of the famous school of the East, in Sankranti of Terathum district. Some of the schools which were started with his initiation has turned into high schools now. In 2051 BS, Bhattarai married Binda Ghimire of Dhungesanghu of Taplejung district itself. He has put forward a plan to turn all the schools and hospitals of Taplejung into modernized and full of facilities.

Education
After completing grade 7, he went to Madi High School of Sankhuwasabha district for further education. It was located at the walking distance of two days from his village. That was the year 1980, when he had reached Madi. The 1979’s students’ revolution was slowly reaching across the villages. And All Nepal NFSU was gaining popularity. The message to raise voice against the Panchayat system had reached the Madi too.
In 1980, ANNFSU declared a general strike for the first time against the panchayat system. He also got actively involved to make the historical strike a success. That was the start of his political journey in an organized manner.
“We thought general strike would be for an indefinite period, so we continued with the strike for twenty days,” he remembers. Bhattarai who had got involved in the movement with his own wish later remained in close politcal contact with the pioneer teachers of the time from Taplejung like Dilli Ghimire, Hari Ghimire, Bolinanda Fago along others and received proper guidance. In 1983, he got admitted in Capital’s Mahendra Ratna Multiple College for higher studies after the completion of his grade ten. In course of the agitation against the Panchayati system, (agitation against contaminated milk) he got locked up in the central jail of the capital for the first time. It didn’t take much time for him to take the leadership at the Mahendra Ratna College because of his simple, active, distinct and bold nature. In a short span of time, he got established as a popular and active leader.
In 1984, he got elected as the vice-president of Free Students Union in Mahendra Ratna college and in 1986, he got victory with immense votes for the president post. In the presence of thousand of students who attending the program had marked a milestone to gain a height with the stage scene. In his journey against the Panchayat system and Monarchy; he was put behind the bars many a times and had also undergone a lot of torture too. In course of his jail life, he got an opportunity to interact closely with the famous pioneers and leaders of Jhapa movement, KP OLi, RK Mainali, Mohan Chandra Adhikari along others. This had also helped in making his political journey more focused and strong. meanwhile, he got the responsibility of ANNFSU Kathmandu district member and Bagmati zone committee secretary.
He also simultaneously progressed with his academic education along with the movement and political responsibilities. In between this he even completed his Masters in Social Science and Anthropology from Tribhuwan University. In 1986, in a move to implement the party policy, by making use of elections to end the Panchayati system; he devoted some of his time Kathmandu and Taplejung for the campaign of Ambika Sawa, a respectable personality. The memories of organizing people at night times and campaigning for Sawa, the popular candidate, during the day times, sharing the local eatables is still fresh in his mind. In 1991, during the election campaign in Sanghu, he heard about the murder of their cadres Com. Indra Thebe and Com. Rukman Thebe. He was agonized by the sad news, but there was no alternative then converting the pain into strength.

A real guardian of Taplejung
Bhattarai came to Kathmandu from Sanghu through the Madi of Sankhuwasabha district for higher education, because there were no such facilities. But his closeness and relation with the people of Taplejung has been always strong. Though he has been a light of hope for the entire Nation; he has been always fulfilling his responsibilities as the guardian of the people of Taplejung. He not only participates in the campaigns related to Taplejung in the capital. but also actively makes his presence in the district. In 2007, the ‘Taplejung Concern Centre’ has been established in their active initiation. He was the founder General Secretary of the Centre, which started a central debate for the development of Taplejung. May there be any natural calamity like the arson or landslip; he has been always there with the people of Taplejung. He has been always leading the rescue tasks. Not only that, he helps the poor children find schools and take the sick people to hospitals; he keeps such things always in priority. Residents of Taplejung right from the district to the capital city, remember him during their hard days.

Combative leader of the people’s movement
Bhattarai had actively participated in the people’s movement of 1989. He stayed in the hostel located at the Tribhuwan University premises. During those days he was the central member of the ANNFSU. There had been a committee to co-ordinate between the ANNFSU and NSU. On behalf of his organization(ANNFSU) Bhattarai had been given the responsibility for the co-ordination.
In the beginning there was no co-ordination between the democrats and the communist. It was with his initiation, the alliance was possible. The slogan was finalized, ‘Joint struggle today’s need, end of Panchayat for Democracy.’ In 1990, February 18, a demonstration had been scheduled at the new road in Kathmandu. Bhattarai was in a wide preparation for the same. But he was arrested on 17 at 2 am before the dawn. After some days he was taken to Chautara of Sindhupalchok district. He was left only after the arrival of democracy in the country. He was arrested before the outbreak of the agitation because the administration had targeted him as a challenge.
In 1991, March 10, they were left at night, he remembers. The next day early morning they were brought to Kathmandu. There were interesting scenes on their way to Kathmandu. There were many people singing and dancing with red flags, at Dolalghat. He felt very happy to see so many people on the road with communist flags. We went directly to Khulamanch. In Khulamanch leaders like Man Mohan Adhikari, Ganeshman Singh, Jhalanath Khanal, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Sahana Pradhan, Girija Prasad Koirala along others presented their speeches. That day was full of happiness with democracy in the country. He got the responsibility as the president of the ANNFSU from 1994 to 1999, passing all the challenging phases. He had also led the agitation against the murder of people’s leader Madan Bhandari and Jivraj Aashrit. The students movement gained life again under his leadership. His contribution are huge in making the ANNFSU gain the popularity. Even today youths remember him the moment the name of ANNFSU is uttered. ANNFSU had won in 73 percent colleges during the students election across the country, under his leadership. It was he who focused the student’s movement in the educational agendas. He had led the movement which brought discounts to the students in public places and transportation. Bhattarai has been established as leader always in the front-line for the nationalist movement and raising his strongly voice in a organized manner.
He has successfully led all the responsibilities allotted to him and proved that he is all the qualities a good leadership needs. It was under his leadership that the ‘Return Kalapani Campaign’ became a success. In 1998, his leadership and nationalist image attained a new elevation, after he successfully led the historical march from Kathmandu to Kalapani. After that the Kalapani issue had gained a national debate. The proof of Indian intervention at 62 places were made public, during the ‘Save Kalapani Movement’. Bhattari had himself taken the lead in the Border Security Campaign from Eastern part of Chyangthapu of Pachthar to Sustha, Maheshpur, Tanakpur to Kalapani. Likewise, he had also led the agitation against the Indian blockade of 1988, as a student leader. In 2014, he had also led the movement against the Indian blockade as a party leader.

Commander of April Revolution
Bhattarai was the secretary of the Kathmandu valley committee during the 2015-16 historical people’s movement and had co-ordinated it as the commander for the same. His leadership had played a vital role in bringing an upsurge in the movement. He played a significant role even in the co-ordination process between all the sides.

Abroad travels
Bhattarai who believes that those involved in politics should at least have the minimum knowledge about his/her country’s geography, history and culture; has traveled to 72 districts so far. He has maintained the international relation and knowledge too. He has not only formed a network within the country itself, relations internationally. He has been to India, China, US, Cuba, South Africa, Belgium, Portugal, Germany, France, England, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Austria, Russia, Brazil, Qatar, Saudi Arab, Dubai, Bahrain, Cyprus along other countries.
He has been initiating in the policy making using the positive sides from his visit to these foreign nations, regarding their political social and other parts. Political parties of different countries, Government and organizations have been inviting him for talks as a guest.

Party Life
Since 2082, he has been actively in politics with close political contacts in CPN(ML). Right from the party’s cell committee until the standing committee through the district, zone and central committee; he has been actively been responsible.
In 2008, he became the CPN (UML)’s central committee member amid the eighth Convention in Butwal, by getting excessive votes in the elections. Also, he was elected for the post of Secretary from the ninth Party Convention. He also fulfilled his responsibility very efficiently, as the chief of the party’s Promotion Department. His role models are Madan Bhandari, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.

Now Economic Revolution
In CPN, he has been recognized as a leader with clear thought and approach. He played a vital role in the party’s fifth Convention to establish the principle propounded by the popular and people’s leader Madan Bhandari, ‘People’s Multiparty Democracy’, as the leader of the then ANNFSU. He believes that there should be a decisive presence of the young generation in the society and party. In order to establish this, He has been holding interactions between the youths affiliated to different political parties by forming a inter-
He wants establish the thought that the seniors should be respected and the youths should be given responsibilities. Now the economic revolution should be made the main slogan and the entire Nation should unite together for the economic and social prosperity, as per his thoughts. He also stresses that the blood and sweat of the Nepalese youths scattered across the globe should be utilized on the Nepalese land.
“All the Nepalese should labor hard and get involved in production. The development of national capital and industry should be given priority. Everyone should compulsorily pay their taxes. Then only the employment opportunities will get created in the country. The youths can be stopped from scattering in foreign land,” as is his main slogan.