Leaders from both the NDA and the grand alliance have left no stone unturned in shouting each other down with remarks that each side has condemned in harshest of words during the ongoing campaign for the Bihar assembly elections.
Before the campaigning for the fourth phase of voting for 55 Bihar assembly seats on November 1 ended on Friday, the National Democratic Alliance as well as the grand alliance of the JD(U), RJD and the Congress continued with that relentless war of words.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi missing from the campaign for the major part of this duration due to the third India-Africa Forum Summit in Delhi, BJP president Amit Shah and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley campaigned actively to make up for his absence.
And the Bharatiya Janata Party president, who addressed half-a-dozen rallies on an average in the past three days, stirred the already boiling political pot with his “fireworks in Pakistan” remark at an election rally at Raxual in East Champaran on Thursday that if BJP loses in Bihar, Diwali will be celebrated in Pakistan.
He had appealed to the people to ensure BJP’s victory “so that disappointment descends in Pakistan”.
The remark evoked strong reaction from rivals who described it as an “attempt to communalise the elections” and the grand secular alliance delegation knocking the doors of Election Commission against the “attempt to communalise” polling in the fourth and fifth phases in which many constituencies have a sizable Muslim population.
After three phases of assembly elections on October 12, 16 and 28, Bihar is all set to witness the high-voltage fourth phase on Sunday. This phase covers 55 seats in seven districts. Three of these — East Champaran, West Champaran and Sitamarhi — border Nepal, while Gopalganj and Siwan border Uttar Pradesh.
These districts are considered saffron strongholds with the BJP having won 26 seats in 2010 and garnering the support of three independent victors who are contesting on BJP tickets this time. The BJP and its allies in the NDA hope to maintain the momentum that saw them sweep 53 of the 55 assembly segments in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
Mahagathbandhan is determined to make a dent with RJD contesting the most (26) followed by JD(U) (21) and Congress (eight). The Congress seeks to stage a comeback in the belt it lorded over till the 1990s with party vice- president having addressed three rallies.
RJD president Lalu Prasad slammed his BJP counterpart linking the controversy with the pride of the state saying the remark was an affront on the citizens of Bihar particularly backwards, EBCs, Dalits and minorities who are “firmly rooting” for the secular alliance.
Considering the importance of the elections, the Prime Minister addressed two rallies at Gopalganj and Muzaffarpur before the campaign ended on Friday evening at 5pm. The PM again alluded to “sinister plan” of chief minister Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad to carve out 5% quota from OBC, SC and ST to give to a particular community .
While campaigning for this phase, the Prime Minister and his rivals fired salvos at each other taking a cue from Bollywood films.
Reacting to Kumar parodying a poem against him on the lines of a song of from Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots, Modi took a potshots at the CM for choosing the song from the film as three parties JD(U), RJD and Congress had joined hand to form an anti-BJP grouping.
Besides, regular counter-offensive from Kumar and Lalu Prasad to NDA leaders, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi came to Bihar for one day to campaign in the fourth round and attacked the PM.
Gandhi and other grand secular alliance leaders poked fun at the PM and linked him with the character of “Virus” in the mega blockbuster.
(With PTI inputs)