Entry of CPN (Maoist Center) leader Shiv Chandra Kushwaha into Janamat Party has made the by-election in Bara-2 scheduled to be held on April 23 interesting.
Many say Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) Chairman Upendra Yadav, who lost to Janamat Party Chairman CK Raut in the House of Representatives (HoR) constituency of Saptari-2, made his confidant Ram Sahay Prasad Yadav, who was elected from Bara-2, vice-president to contest the by-election from that constituency.
And he looks set to become the common coalition candidate from the constituency.
Raut recognizes that his party will have to directly compete with JSP if it wishes to become a major force in Madhes and had fielded its vice-presidential candidate against the common coalition candidate from JSP despite being together in the coalition with JSP.
Raut has been accusing Upendra Yadav of trying to get into the House by the backdoor just five months after being soundly beaten in Saptari. He has ushered Kushwaha in to try to deny Yadav the backdoor entry.
Kushwaha had secured 13,823 votes and lost to Ram Sahay Prasad Yadav by just 355 votes in the recent election. Kushwaha had the support of Nepali Congress (NC), CPN (Unified Socialist) and Loktantrik Samajwadi Party (LSP) while JSP was supported by UML after Upendra Yadav quit the then ruling coalition just before filing of nominations due to differences over sharing of seats and allied with UML.
Raut claims that Kushwaha’s entry into his party has almost guaranteed victory but Janamat Party does not have the base in the constituency to beat Yadav. The party, that contested general elections for the first time in November, performed worst in Bara and Parsa among the eight districts in Madhesh.
The party’s Rajesh Sah had secured just 2,725 votes in November while Kushwaha does not seem to have much personal hold in the constituency.
Kushwaha, who had joined the Maoist insurgency in late 1990s, was elected from Bara-2 on Maoist ticket in the First Constituent Assembly (CA) Election in 2008. He quit the party after not getting the ticket in the Second CA Election in 2013. But he secured just 2,900 votes contesting on the ticket of the then Sadbhawana Party. He returned back to Maoist Center in 2017.
JSP, on the other hand, seems to have a strong hold in the constituency and won one provincial seat from the constituency while its support helped UML win the other provincial seat.
The fact that Ram Kishore Yadav crossed 10,000 votes contesting as an independent candidate after quitting JSP in Bara-2 won by JSP shows how strong JSP is in the constituency dominated by Yadavs.
Ram Sahaya Prasad Yadav will wield further influence in the constituency now that he has become the vice-president of the country.
Upendra Yadav, therefore, has been eying the constituency. What UML, that had allied with JSP in November, 2022, does will be important but the main opposition party is not as strong in this constituency as it is in other constituencies of the district.
Upendra Yadav, who was recommended to contest from the constituency in November by the party’s local unit, will have to face the accusation of being a tourist candidate while the rising popularity of Raut, who seems bent on challenging Yadav for the title of the most influential leader of Madhes, also looks set to create problems for him.
Kushwaha’s history of repeatedly changing parties may also hinder his prospects in a constituency even though the contest, in essence looks set to be between Raut and Yadav.