PATNA: The high pitched campaign for the crucial third phase of Bihar assembly election ended on Monday with the political rivals going hammers and tongs on controversial issues like reservation and release of no. of video clips exposing their opponents. The third phase became important as the BJP made certain changes in its campaign strategy, like giving more space to leaders of allies and senior party leaders of the state. Party president Amit Shah who himself took the early lead addressing a press conference in Patna dismissed reports that grand alliance has an early edge and said BJP’s alliance would win 32-34 of 49 seats in the first phase and 24 of 32 seats in the second. This phase is considered a traditional stronghold of the BJP.
Among the highlights during campaigning was the release of a video clip showing Nitish taking blessings from a tantrik who is saying “Nitish Zindabad, Lalu Murdabad”. This gave enough ammunition to PM Narendra Modi to take a swipe at his political opponents by calling Nitish ‘Loktantrik Nitish ji’ and RJD “Rashtriya Jadu Tona Party.” Interestingly, when mediapersons asked Lalu to react he said, “I am a bigger tantrik than these tantriks.”
Hitting back at the saffron party leaders, Nitish said the people of Bihar had made Shah and the Tanashah (autocrat) realise the power of democratic forces in this election.
Facing consistent onslaught on issues of reservation, the BJP tried its best to encash on the humble background of the PM who claimed he belonged to the EBC (Extremely backward caste). Addressing an election rally at Buxar on Monday, Modi accused the grand alliance of plotting to take away the five percent reservation of the SC, ST and OBCs to give it to a “community” (insinuating minority appeasement).
In an apparent move to dilute caste mobilisation, the BJP asked its leaders to get in direct touch with voters.
Nitish tried to raise the issue of insiders and outsiders as he has done before, saying, “Who will rule Bihar – a Bihari or Bahri (outsider).” He also harped on the recent price rise, particularly of pulses, saying “Its not har-har Modi but Ar-har (a pulse) Modi”
The PM also floated his six-point agenda for development of the state to counter the seven commitments of Nitish. The grand alliance campaign was led by Lalu and Nitish, while Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul campaigned only for a day.
In the third phase, the polls will be held in 50 constituencies spread over six districts — Patna, Vaishali, Saran, Nalanda, Bhojpur and Buxar. Polling has already been held in 81 Assembly seats in the first phases.