5 months after his Saptari defeat, Bara sends Upendra Yadav to ParliamentYadav emerges victorious in bypolls beating the Janamat hopeful who was riding on the popularity wave of CK Raut.
At first blush, the byelection in Bara-2 was a straight shootout between Janata Samajbadi Party chair Upendra Yadav and Janamat Party’s candidate Shiv Chandra Kushwaha. But dig a little and it was so much more, as Madhesh observers had commented in the lead-up to the polls.
It was a contest for prestige, a battle between a Madhesh veteran, Yadav, and newly emerged popular leader CK Raut, to show who is the ‘true leader’ Madhesh in their own words.
For now, Upendra Yadav has won the battle—getting into the House of Representatives from Bara-2 by a margin of 5,081 votes. Yadav emerged victorious over his closest competitor Shiva Chandra Kushwaha of the Janamat Party, garnering 28,415 votes. Kushwaha got 23,334 votes while Purushottam Poudel of the CPN-UML received 10,216 votes.
The bypoll, however, turned out to be an uphill battle for Yadav, the common candidate of the ruling coalition. He had the support of Nepali Congress, the largest party in the parliament, and Maoist Centre, the third largest.
For its part, the Janamat Party tried its best to prevent Upendra Yadav from entering the parliament. It fielded Shiv Chandra Kushwaha, poaching him from the Maoist Centre just ahead of the polls. The party’s plan to foil Yadav’s attempt and extend its influence on the western belt of Madhesh has failed—for now.
A new force had emerged in Madhesh from the major polls. The Janamat Party won six House seats and earned a national party status in its first attempt at parliamentary politics. The Janata Samajbadi Party led by Yadav won 12 seats. One of the biggest stories of the polls was Raut’s landslide victory in Saptari-2 over JSP chair Yadav, with a wide margin of 18,063 votes.
In addition to it being a contest for prestige, Yadav’s aim was to enter the Parliament and become the JSP’s parliamentary party leader, and probably land a key ministry. Eyeing a key position in the government, Yadav also helped Ramsahay Prasad Yadav, a confidant of his, get elected to the post of JSP’s parliamentary party leader. That would make it easier for Upendra Yadav to take the position should he be elected to the House in the future.
Right after the results of the November 20 polls came out, Yadav started laying the ground for his comeback as a lawmaker. He lobbied for the election of Ramsahaya Prasad to the Vice President’s seat. He kept on demanding the post of the country’s Vice President for his party in power-sharing talks, to his eventual success.
The House seat in Bara-2 went vacant after Ramsahay’s election as Vice President.
On the other hand, the Loktantrik Samajbadi, the Janamat and the Nagarik Unmukti parties had forged a working alliance ahead of the Vice President election. The three smaller parties were so determined to stop Yadav from entering the federal parliament that they formed a sub-alliance even as the three parties and Yadav’s JSP were partners in the ruling coalition led by the Congress and the Maoist Centre.
Janamat Party fielded its own Vice President candidate, Mamata Jha, in an apparent bid to corner Upendra Yadav in Madhesh politics. The strategy did not work. Ramsahay got elected to the post with support of major coalition partners.
Rajendra Mahato, another veteran of Madhesh politics, had planned to contest the by-election in Bara-2 but backed off at the time of candidacy filing. His Loktantrik Samajbadi party eventually supported Yadav’s candidacy.