Campaign picks up for Bihar polls


Patna : Campaigning for the Bihar assembly elections has finally picked up with senior political leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and BJP leader Arun Jaitley, set to address rallies and seek the people’s mandate.

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With just three days to go for the end of campaign for the first of the six phased assembly polls, the prime minister, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, Jaitley, Communist Party of India-Marxist’s Brinda Karat and other star campaigners like Raju Srivastav and Smirti Irani will seek votes.

The political battlefield has been slowly hotting up since early this month with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal-United and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi of alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), arch rival Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and his alliance partner Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan wooing voters by addressing a series of rallies each day.

Rahul Gandhi, who began his day-long campaign Thursday for the polls by addressing three rallies in Katihar, Araria and Supaul, launched a scathing attack on Nitish Kumar and said no economic development has taken place in the state.

Manmohan Singh will address a public rally in Narpatganj constituency in Araria district Saturday.

Sonia Gandhi will address public rallies in Kishanganj and Motihari districts Monday.

“All eyes are on Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi’s campaign in Bihar. Our rivals are going through sleepless nights fearing polarisation in favour of the Congress,” Congress state spokesperson Prem Chand Mishra told IANS.

Congress leaders and workers are confident that the star campaigners will help the party garner votes. In the first phase Oct 21, 47 of the assembly’s total 243 seats will go to polls.

BJP president Nitin Gadkari and CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat have addressed rallies. But barring Rahul Gandhi’s remarks against BJP’s ideology and Nitish Kumar’s claims of development, nothing has generated heat in the polls campaign.

BJP star campaigners Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and L.K. advani are also missing the ongoing campaign.

BJP leaders are reluctant to say why Advani has not been invited to campaign for the first phase.

A JD-U leader close to Nitish Kumar said that post the Ayodhya verdict, Advani’s presence will harm the National Democratic Alliance’s prospects in Bihar, particularly in the Seemanchal belt.

“Advani symbolises demolition of Babri Masjid and his campaign for NDA will give advantage to rivals RJD-LJP and Congress to woo Muslim voters in their favour,” the JD-U leader said.

According to BJP sources here, Advani is likely to campaign in Bihar polls during the remaining phases.

Bihar will elect a 243-member house in staggered election that begin Oct 21 and end Nov 20. The results will be known Nov 24.