Growing Yadav-Raut rivalry unfolds at foundation-laying eventObservers call it ‘vote-bank politics’.
Tensions between two prominent Madhes-based political parties escalated dramatically during the foundation-laying function at the Madhesh Agriculture University in Rajbiraj of Saptari on Monday.
Supporters of the Janata Samajbadi Party and the Janamat Party clashed at the function leaving a number of leaders and cadres injured. Janamat Party Chairman CK Raut said the injured include Education Minister of Madhesh Province Mahesh Prasad Yadav, and provincial lawmakers Satish Kumar Singh, Bhagyashree Chaudhary, and Ranju Khang.
The site of the new university happens to be the electoral constituency of CK Raut, the chairman of the Janamat Party who defeated Yadav in the 2022 parliamentary elections.
After Yadav decided to lay the foundation of the new university building, a large number of Janamat Party supporters who had gathered at the site in an attempt to disrupt the function clashed with the police. The minister and provincial lawmakers were injured. Provincial Education Minister Yadav who was injured during the protest on Monday had instructed to cancel the function, but the chief minister of the Madhes Province, Saroj Yadav, who represents the Janata Samajbadi Party, ignored the call and decided to go ahead with the schedule for laying the foundation of the new university.
Amid heckling by the cadres of the Janamat Party, chairman of the Janata Samajbadi Party concluded his speech in just one minute.
Education minister Mahesh Prasad Yadav, and lawmakers Satish Kumar Singh, Bhagyashree Chaudhary and Ranju Khang, along with members of the public have been injured in baton-charge by the deployed police and army. They had gone to welcome the man, eager to become chief guest, with garlands in Gandhian style,” Raut wrote on X.
Chairman of the Janata Samajbadi Party Yadav was the chief guest of the function.
The Janamat Party has two ministers in the Yadav-led government.
In the 2022 parliamentary elections, both Raut and Yadav had contested from Saptari-2 and Yadav was defeated by Raut. As a result, the rivalry between the two parties and their chairmen has been growing in Madhes province as well as in Saptari district in recent times.
In their attempt to stop Yadav from becoming the chief guest, some of our friends were injured, said BP Shah, a Janamat Party leader.
Despite protest from the Janamat Party, Chief Minister Yadav and Chairman Yadav jointly laid the foundation. Raut accused that the army was deployed in the streets of Saptari from early morning and there was a huge police presence at the function venue and streets of Rajbiraj.
“The inauguration was against the code of conduct of the election commission. The decision to set up the university was not approved by the Ministry of Education. The administration and police should stop this illegal and unconstitutional move, but the foundation-laying was done forcefully. This is a conspiracy,” wrote Raut on social media.
Earlier, after the provincial cabinet decided to make Yadav the chief guest, Raut had written to the Ministry of Home Affairs and asked not to allow him to lay the foundation and make better security arrangements. The new university is spread over 12 bigha (8.13 hectares) in ward 13 of Rajbiraj Municipality.
Madhesh observer Tula Narayan Shah termed Monday’s incident as a clash of the two leaders to control Madhesh politics. “This is vote-bank politics.”
Yadav is an established leader in Madhes while Raut is an emerging leader. Raut and Yadav have developed a personal rivalry after the 2022 elections. Both the Janamat Party and Janata Samajbadi Party are national parties.
“In Kathmandu, there is competition to become a radical force. In Madhes province, both parties are striving to solidify their influence. At the local level, Raut has been championing issues like corruption, unemployment, and reform. And Kathmandu, sometimes favors Raut and sometimes towards Yadav,” said Shah.
“As both of them are in the federal government in Kathmandu, they try to outmanouevre each other.”
Yadav, however, dismissed the Janamat Party’s protests and allegations against him.
“When you don’t have ideology and principles, such things happen. I take these easy,” Yadav told the Post, while terming the activities of Raut and his party as a stunt.