The NDA and rival Grand Alliance (GA) seem evenly poised for the crucial second phase of polling on Friday across 32 assembly constituencies that are largely rural. The stakeholders are keeping their fingers crosses as the polling trend in this phase would give an indication about their overall prospects.
Of these 32 constituencies, 25 are rural and seven urban. The stakes for the JD(U) and ally RJD are higher as they had won 21 seats in the 2010 polls while third partner Congress drew a blank. The BJP had won nine seats and two seats went to independents.
This time, the RJD and JD(U) are contesting 13 seats each while Congress is fighting on six seats. The BJP is contesting 16 seats, Hindustani Awami Morcha-Secular (HAM-S) seven, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) six and LJP three seats.
Amid contradictory reports emerging from the first phase on October 12, both the alliances seem to have changed their poll strategy to woo the voters in the second phase though the barbs continued to fly.
The BJP came out with posters and banners on the development agenda to counter GA’s “caste and reservation” issue. The new slogans urge people to vote for change (Badaliye sarkar, badaliye Bihar) and the need to establish the same government in Bihar as in the centre for fast-track development (Vikas ki hogi tej rafter jab kendra-rajya mein ek sarkar).
The new posters have also given space to Bihar-based BJP leaders such as Sushil Kumar Modi and Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav and allies such as Ram Vilas Paswan, Upendra Kushwaha and Jitan Ram Manjhi alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah.
The posters and newspaper advertisements also carry promises to provide two-wheelers to girl students, interest-free loan for agriculture, colour TV for dalit and mahadalit families, plot of land for homeless and a pair of dhoti and saree for poor families.
“The polling trend in the first phase gave clear indication that people have gone beyond caste divides and solidly voted for the BJP and its allies,” Sushil Kumar Modi, former deputy chief minister, said.
The second phase campaign also saw NDA sharpening attack on the “grand secular alliance” in the backdrop of a sting video that purportedly showed a minister accepting `4 lakh bribe. The Prime Minister flagged it at his rallies on October 12, a day after the damning video showed up on the birth anniversary of Jayaprakash Narayan.
Nitish Kumar has also redefined his decision of joining hands with Lalu Prasad following reports that the general voters’ mood in the first phase was against it. Kumar said it was a move to ensure the defeat of the BJP-led NDA and avoid split in anti-BJP votes.