NEW DELHI: Bihar will see a surfeit of rallies with both the BJP and the Congress lining up 20 each of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Congress top-brass, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, in a competitive spree. This is not even counting the rallies of the other regional satraps, including Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Spurred into action after the BJP lampooned Rahul’s foreign trip as a “forced vacation’’ planned to avoid disastrous results that his campaigning could produce, the Congress has lined up rallies by the dozen — the disparity in the number of seats the two are contesting, BJP — 160 as against Congress — 40, notwithstanding. Beginning October 7, Rahul will be campaigning in select areas, with emphasis on Seemanchal, West and East Champaran and Sasaram. This, apparently, to stall the division of minority votes, which is one of the reasons why the JD(U)-RJD-Congress grand alliance came into being. With Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party and Sharad Pawar’s NCP floating a third front with smaller entities like Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party-Loktantrik, former Union Minister Nagmani’s Samras Samaj Party and PA Sangma’s National People’s Party, and projecting NCP leader and Kathihar MP Tariq Anwar as their chief ministerial candidate, the turf has got a bit too crowded.
This is not even factoring in Asadudin Owaisi’s MIM and the Left parties’ unity, all of whom are wooing minority votes. Rahul’s rallies will be on October 7, 26 and 30, in Begusarai, Sheikpura and Kiamur near Sasaram, and in West and East Champaran, Sitamarhi in the first leg; Kishanganj and Kathihar in the second and Seemanchal in the last leg. In all, 13 rallies of Rahul have been scheduled till now, and the rest will be on request, sources in the party said.
Sonia, meanwhile, will be addressing four rallies, beginning October 3 in Bhagalpur. She will also address a gathering at Wajirganj, Gaya on the same day. This is where Jitan Ram Manjhi, the short-term former Bihar CM, is contesting and Sonia will be directly appealing to his Mahadalit voters. The Congress chief has more rallies scheduled in Buxar and Saran on October 16. For each of the high-profile war-horses, Lalu and Nitish, as also Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is a crucial election. A victory or defeat in Bihar is expected to determine how politics will play out on the national stage in the days to come. While for Lalu and Nitish, it is a battle of existence, the BJP can ill-afford to post another loss after the Delhi washout.
BJP chief Amit Shah, who landed in Patna on Tuesday, will work to placate dissident voices that have arisen in the party over a number of reasons, from tickets being given to turncoats from JD(U) and RJD and allegedly to those with criminal background to denial of nomination to the kin of some leaders. Starting Wednesday, he will hold meetings at Begusarai, Aurangabad, Patna, Muzaffarpur and Supaul besides other places till October 5. He will also hold rallies in Kishanganj, Katihar and Purnia, constituencies, the BJP had lost in the Lok Sabha elections last year. He is keen on regaining the lost ground.
Shah Flies to Patna to Give One Final Push
Patna: With barely a fortnight left for the first phase of polls, BJP chief Amit Shah is here for a week-long tour of Bihar during which he will hold a series of key meetings to galvanise party cadres for a final push in the tough battle with the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance. Joined by party’s election in-charge Ananth Kumar, Shah will preside over nine regional meetings across the state, Bihar BJP spokesperson Sanjay Mayukh said.