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From a farmer's son to first president of republic Nepal

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From a farmer's son to first president of republic Nepal: A short biography of Dr Ram Baran Yadav

By Anand Gurung

Dr Ram Baran Yadav has made history by becoming the first president of republic Nepal through a closely contested presidential run-off held Monday, thus fulfilling the long cherished dream of many Nepalis of seeing a true Janata ko Choro (son of the people) assuming the responsibility of the coveted post.

Consequently, Dr Yadav has made another history by also becoming the first person outside the royal family to become the head of the state of the new republic, breaking the century old tradition which reserved the coveted title to the eldest son of the Shah Dynasty, who held a demi god status of incarnation of Lord Bishnu, all of which ended with its eventual demise through a historic proclamation of the Constituent Assembly that declared the country a republic.

But like most person of stature, Dr Yadav, too, had a very humble beginning. Born to a simple farming family in February 4, 1948 in Sapahi VDC of Dhanusha district in the Terai plains of Nepal, Dr Yadav was the fourth son of Thani Yadav and Ram Rati Yadav.

Fondly called "Rama" by family and friends alike, during his childhood he was more interested in taking out his water buffaloes for grazing with his friends than ponder over books in classroom. This was why he dropped out of school while still studying in class three in Dheda kachuri School in his village. But later he joined Saraswati High School in Janakpur after his father insisted that his son get a descent education and grow up to become a respectable person.

His party colleague Ananda Dhungana, who also attended the same school, remembers him as the oldest among his classmates, one who had already become a father by the time he passed the SLC in first division.

Thereafter, he came to Kathmandu for higher studies and joined I.Sc at Amrit Science Campus. As he was keen on studying medicine, the young Ram Baran Yadav went to Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) while he was pursuing his B.Sc in Kathmandu and got admission in the prestigious Calcutta Medical College from where he received his M.B.B.S degree and became a practicing doctor. His father had to sell off the family land and other property to support Ram Baran's higher education. Also, it was while studying in Kolkata that he met self-exiled Nepali Congress leaders including B.P Koirala, from whom he was very impressed and who was to later inspire him to get actively involved in politics. Later he went on to finish his M.D degree from Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh of India in the year 1983.

Although a doctor by profession, Dr Yadav could never distance himself from active politics despite his busy schedule. This zest for politics was planted young, as even during his university days Dr Yadav used to be very active in student politics.

Dr Yadav started getting actively engaged in politics after the year 1960 when Late king Mahendra dissolved the first democratically elected government of Nepal led by B.P Koirala and seized absolute powers. He received the membership of Nepali Congress in 1967 and then vowed to devote his entire life to politics. Since then Dr Yadav has been at the forefront of every struggle to restore democracy in the country. During the 1979 referendum conducted to find what style of government best suits the Nepalis people, Dr Yadav actively supported multiparty democracy. However, the referendum resulted in the continuation of Panchayati system of governance.

A well-known doctor who is very much respected in the medical fraternity, Dr Yadav became the personal physician to B.P Koirala who was ailing from cancer during the 80s. This must be noted as an important turning point in his life, as through close association and inspiration from this eminent leader of Nepal, Dr Yadav started to make a distinct identity of his own in the country's politics. He still regards B.P Koirala to be his political mentor.

Dr Yadav continued to look after B.P Koirala and helped him in his chemotherapy until his health deteriorated to a great extent and eventually died in 1982. He was deeply grieved by the sad demise of his mentor, but not even a month later another personal tragedy followed when his wife who had long been struggling with bone marrow cancer died in Kolkata.

Call it a coincidence, but on the day the nation marks the 26th death anniversary of B.P Koirala that Dr Ram Baran Yadav has been elected to the post of the first president of republic Nepal.

But personal tragedy aside, Dr Yadav, continued to climb the party rung. At the party's ninth general convention he was elected to the powerful Central Working Committee and soon, in recognition for his important contribution in strengthening the organization, was appointed general secretary of the party and had from the past one year been fulfilling this responsibility very effectively. He is still considered to be an important confidante of PM Girija Prasad Koirala at a time when some prominent NC leaders of Madhesi origin like him deserted the party to champion regional politics.

Although defeated in the Panchayat election at the local bodies in 1987, Dr Yadav won the 1991 general election held for the first time after the restoration of democracy and was elected the member of House of Representative (HoR).

Despite losing in the mid-term election in 1994, he continued his winning streak in the 1999 parliamentary election and became health minister twice.

In the recently concluded CA election too Dr Yadav was elected as the CA member from Dhanusha constituency-5, despite facing a stiff competition from his competitors and when political heavyweights like him were being defeated one after another.

Dr Yadav is respected as a fearless leader in the party circles who is very articulate and puts forth what is in his mind without any hesitation. Much like his mentor B.P Koirala, Dr Yadav believes in simple lifestyle. From the past many years he has been living in a rented apartment in Bagdole, Lalitpur with his nephew. His two sons and daughter live abroad.

He is also said to be one who puts national sovereignty and integrity above all party or partisan interests which was pretty apparent from the stance he took against thel demand of "One Madhes State" and right to self-determination raised by Terai based Madhesi parties, despite being a Madhesi himself.

In this way after the abolishment of the institution of monarchy in the country and exactly 52 days after king Gyanendra was dethroned by the CA, Nepal has found its first Head of State in Dr Ram Baran Yadav.


If you want to be a star then you must follow your own path, shine your own light and never be afraid of the darkness, coz that's the time they shine the brightest!!

"Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate. - Hubert Humphrey
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