Winning Bara-2 may not be easy for YadavBent on barring Yadav from Parliament, Janamat set to field Maoist defector Shiv Chandra Kushwaha.
The by-election in Bara-2 is just round the corner. A key Madhesh-based leader and chair of the Janata Samajbadi Party, Upendra Yadav, is eager to throw his hat in the ring, while the Janamat Party welcomed Maoist Centre’s Shiv Chandra Kushwaha to its fold on Wednesday to pit him against Yadav.
The contest in Bara-2 is set to be significant in that it is set to be testing ground for two powerful Madhesh leaders Upendra Yadav and CK Raut. Observers have been saying that Yadav, the Madhesh veteran, and Raut, the newly emerged leader who is popular among youths, are competing for influence in the plains.
Upendra Yadav, who was defeated in the major elections held in November last year from Saptari-2 with a huge margin to the Janamat Party chair CK Raut, appears prepared to go to any length to win this time. The Janamat Party, on the other hand, is trying its level best to prevent Yadav from entering Parliament. Kushwaha’s joining the Janamat Party hints at the same, say observers.
At the function organised by the Janamat Party to welcome Kushwaha, he claimed that he would defeat Upendra Yadav. “As Raut has emerged as a new leader with fresh ideas for the freedom of Madhesh, the people of Saptari heard him, resulting in Yadav’s defeat. Now, the by-election in Bara-2 is at the doorstep. We have seen Yadav’s lust for power. He looks as if he can’t live without power, and this is not what the people of Bara-2 want him to be like. So I joined the Janamat Party to defeat him in the election,” he said.
Raut’s victory from Saptari-2 heralded the emergence of a new force in Madhesh. The Janamat Party, in its first attempt at parliamentary politics, won six seats in the lower house, and earned a national party status. Now it is eying Bara-2.
Upendra Yadav has been criticised, of late, for his eagerness to use the perceived ‘back door’ to enter Parliament.
Madhesh observers say, of the total voters in Bara-2, around 21 percent are Yadav, around 13 percent Muslims, and the rest are non-Yadavs.
Upendra Yadav’s electoral strategy is to appeal to the Yadav-Muslim electorate, and simultaneously garner support of the large parties of the ruling coalition—the Nepali Congress and the CPN (Maoist Centre), said Chandra Kishore, a Madhesh observer and a political commentator.
“He will also play the ‘I made a Bara lawmaker the country’s Vice President’ card to woo voters. But Kushwaha is more of a local leader with a local voter base. He will attempt to lure non-Yadavs, the marginalised, and most importantly, dissident voters of the Congress and the Maoist Centre into supporting him,” said Kishore.
The by-elections in Bara-2, Chitwan-2, and Tanahun-1 are slated for April 23. The federal parliament seat in Bara-2 became vacant after Janata Samajbadi Party’s Ramsahay Prasad Yadav was elected as the country’s third Vice President. The Chitwan seat became vacant after the Supreme Court annulled the lawmaker position of the Rastriya Swatantra Party chair Rabi Lamichhane on January 27, citing that the documents he submitted to contest the elections were invalid. The Tanahun seat became vacant after Ram Chandra Paudel of the Nepali Congress was elected President.
Challenges are also rife for Upendra Yadav, say observers. “Whether he will be able to capitalise on caste-based votes is yet to be seen. And transferring votes from the Nepali Congress and Maoist Centre is another challenge,” added Kishore.
The caste-based votes get divided among candidates if the key leaders fail to keep their caste-based voter base intact. Ramsahay won the November’s major polls last year securing 13,822 votes with the support of the CPN-UML. Kushwaha came second by a slim margin, securing 13,468 votes. Three independent candidates trailed: Ram Kishore Prasad Yadav bagged 11,043 votes while Rabindra Prasad Yadav garnered 10,750 votes, and Arun Kumar Gyawali got 7,698 votes.
The electoral prospects of Upendra Yadav depend on the decision of the ruling coalition on candidature, said another Madhesh observer Rajanikant Jha.
“Upendra Yadav seems confident this time as it is his party’s own constituency. If the ruling coalition supports Yadav’s constituency, his odds of winning are higher. But he will face a tough competition if the ruling coalition parties (the Nepali Congress and the Maoist Centre) field their own candidates since a portion of anti-Yadav votes can go to Kushwaha,” said Jha.
The Congress has a strong presence in the constituency. “But to strengthen and sustain the coalition, there is a chance that Congress will support Yadav’s constituency,” added Jha.