Patna, Oct 26 (PTI) Curtain came down on Monday over
campaign for 71 assembly segments of Bihar which go to polls
on October 28, in the first phase of elections.
Leading the NDA charge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew
down to address as many as three rallies where he urged the
voters to vote Chief Minister Nitish Kumar back to power.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, whose party is
contesting the elections in alliance with Lalu Prasads RJD
and three Left parties, also chipped in with two rallies.
The BJPs quest for dominance over the states political
scene, evident from a seat-sharing deal as part of which it
clinched nearly as many constituencies as the JD(U) its
senior partner so far- resonated during the election campaign.
Modi, as also other BJP star campaigners like Uttar
Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and party president
Jagat Ptakash Nadda repeatedly cited Ram temple at Ayodhya,
scrapping of Article 370 and law against triple talaq as
achievements of the government at the Centre and attacked the
opposition for opposing these.
The 69 years old Chief Minister, who is also the JD(U)
president and is seeking a fourth term in power, carried out a
strenuous campaign which began with a series of virtual
rallies and has been followed by dozens of election meetings
where he has been physically present, including two where he
shared the stage with the Prime Minister.
The normally unflappable Nitish Kumar made news on more
than one occasion for losing his cool and snapping at
protesters from the opposition camp who turned up at his
rallies raising slogans.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who has been named by his
party as its Chief Ministerial candidate, also ran an
indefatigable campaign which comprised rallies, video messages
relayed through the social media and press conferences.
Massive turnouts and enthusiastic response from the
crowds at his rallies have been a surprise for political
observers who have underscored that the ambience spoke more of
the anti-incumbency than the appeal of the former Deputy CM.
Another huge draw has been Lok Janshakti Party president
Chirag Paswan who stunned all with his decision to go solo in
the assembly polls.
The 37 years old began campaigning actively rather late,
only after the customary mourning after the death of his
father Ram Vilas Paswan was over on October 20.
The LJP chief has, thereafter, hit the streets with a
vengeance canvassing for his candidates, a sizeable chunk of
whom happen to be rebels from the BJP and the JD(U) which he
has vowed to dislodge from power in the state while
proclaiming loyalty towards the saffron party.
Other prominent leaders who have campaigned in the state
so far include Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani,
Congress leaders Raj Babbar and Shatrughan Sinha, BSP supremo
Mayawati and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi.
CPI rising star Kanhaiya Kumar also joined the campaign,
mainly for candidates of the Left parties.
Besides, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman flew
down to release the BJP manifesto which promised, among other
things, free corona vaccination.
Many prominent leaders fell prey to the contagion while
campaigning, which saw them among large numbers of people
without necessary vaccinations. These included Deputy Chief
Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, former Maharashtra Chief Minister
Devendra Fadnavis and former Union ministers Rajiv Pratap Rudy
and Syed Shahnawaz Hussain.
Altogether 1066 candidates are in the fray for the first
phase of elections, 114 of them females.
The voting in the first phase on Wednesday will decide
fate of nearly half-a-dozen ministers of Nitish Kumar
cabinet-Krishnandan Varma, Prem Kumar, Jay Kumar Singh,
Santosh Kumar Nirala, Vijay Sinha and Ram Narayan Mandal.
The 71 constituencies going to vote on October fall in
six districts, including naxal-hit Gaya, Rohtas and
Among the prominent parties while RJD is contesting on
42 of the 71 seats in the first phase, JD(U) candidates are in
41 constituencies, BJP (29), Congress (21) and LJP nominees
are in fray at 41 places. PTI NAC