NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi will address two election rallies in crucial Seemanchal region of Bihar, where Asaduddin Owaisi's MIM threatens to upset the apple cart of "secular" grand alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress, which is fighting a tough battle against Narendra Modi-led NDA.
As per the programme so far, Rahul will address at least nine rallies and Congress president Sonia Gandhi at least four as the two leaders will hit the campaign trail of Congress across the length and breadth of Bihar. Sources in the party said that one or two more rallies by each of them could be added during their campaign for the five-phase Assembly polls beginning October 12.
Sonia will start the election blitzkrieg of her party on October 3 from Bhagalpur region. She will address another rally, the same day, in Wajirganj in Gaya. Gaya has a sizeable population of Mahadalits and is the home district of former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, whose party HAM (Secular) is an ally of NDA.
Congress has fielded old warhorse Awdhesh Singh from Wajirganj constituency, a seat held by BJP at present. The district of Gaya is considered a stronghold of BJP. She will address one rally each in Buxar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad's home turf Saran on October 17.
Rahul will be holding public meetings on October 7, 26 and 30. He is scheduled to address three rallies everyday. His public meetings are scheduled in Begusarai, Sheikhpura and Kaimur near Sasaram on October 7, West Champaran, East Champaran and Sitamarhi on October 26 and Kishanganj and Katihar in Seemanchal region on October 30th.
Voting will take place in Kishanganj and Katihar in the last phase on November 5, when the maximum of 57 Assembly constituencies go to the polls on a single day. Both the districts have large Muslim population, which play a decisive role in results.
The election results from Seemanchal region have always played a key role in government formation in the state. This time Owaisi is making a debut in Bihar polls and has chosen to field candidates, including rebels from established parties, in the Seemanchal region, which threatens to ruin the prospect of the grand alliance.
Besides, NCP's Tariq Anwar, Katihar MP has been named as chief ministerial candidate of the Samajwadi Party-led third
front of six parties that includes Pappu Yadav's Jan Adhikar Party-Loktantrik (JAP-L), Samras Samaj Party (SSP), Nationalists Peoples Party (NPP) and Samajwadi Janata Party (SJP).
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav playing the minority card, after walking out of the grand alliance, could make the battle tough for the JDU-RJD-Congress combine in the Seemanchal region.
Leaders of the grand alliance, have, however, downplayed the impact of Owaisi or the third front on the election outcome.
Rahul will also address rallies in West Champaran and East Champaran on October 26, which will go to polls on November 1 in the fourth phase, when votes will be cast in 55 Assembly seats in seven districts.
The BJP, in alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP, Upendar Kushwaha's RLSP and Manjhi's HAM (Secular) is making a serious bid to wrest power from two-term Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is allied with Lalu Prasad and Congress to checkmate Modi-led BJP, which virtually decimated them in Bihar in the last Lok Sabha polls.
After the Delhi drubbing, Bihar polls are a make or break election for BJP while the political future of both Prasad and Kumar also hinges on it in this crucial poll.
Bihar will have five-phase election extending from October 12 to November 5 this year to elect 243 members of its legislative Assembly.
Results will be announced on November 8.