Bihar 3rd Phase Polls: Poster wars reach a crescendo in Patna

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Patna, Oct 25: Helicopter-borne candidates and campaigners circling over villages and cities may have raised the battle pitch in Bihar literally to the skies, but posters and hoardings still rule here as opponents are using the visual campaign to the hilt to trade barbs to woo voters.

'Bahut hua jumlon ka war, phir ek bar Nitish Kumar' (too much of barb-trading, vote for Nitish Kumar once again), screams a hoarding at the busy Exhibition Road intersection here while banners carrying NDA's war cry of 'Badaliye sarkar, badaliye Bihar' (change government, change Bihar) and the image of Modi-Shah duo, have become ubiquitous in the state capital, where poll excitement has reached a crescendo. [Bihar Assembly Elections 2015: Full Coverage]

Bihar

Patna, along with five other districts will go to polls on October 28 in the third phase of the high-octave Bihar elections, which will span 50 crucial constituencies. And after salvo-firing at rallies, 'poster posturing' is where real barbs are being traded.

All major locations and landmarks in the city are splashed with political colours, with BJP apparently a decibel up in the poster wars.

Giant hoardings carrying the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, beside the party's slogan in the Bihar polls –'Badaliye sarkar, badaliye Bihar' have flooded all parts of the city, from busy traffic intersections to flyovers to railway stations and other transport hubs, and markets, among other places.

And, if Modi-Shah duo are being projected as vote magnets, for the Grand Alliance, JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar has been fronted to win the battle of the eyeballs.

Commuters crossing the old Chirayantand Bridge can see four rows of unipole advertisements by BJP bearing the Modi-Shah duo image and the rallying slogan of 'Badaliye sarkar...' Up ahead at the famous and historic Dakbungalow Chouraha, Modi-Shah and Nitish seem to be smiling at people from all sides, with a Chirag Paswan competing for attention from a corner.

Kumar ruled Bihar for last 10 years in alliance with BJP, before snapping ties with the national party, and the publicity campaign centred around him, has been designed to inflict 'caustic barbs' on its opponents.

At the busy Fraser Road, Exhibition Road, among other prominent streets, the banner carrying Kumar's image against a red background reads - 'Jhhanse meyn na aayenge, Nitish ko jitayenge' (Will not be fooled, ensure Nitish's win).

Incidentally, his hoarding sits atop an equal-sized one, carrying the smiling Modi-Shah duo. Even at the new nearly 3-km-long flyover on the Bailey Road recently inaugurated by Kumar, the NDA versus Grand Alliance or more like Modi-Shah versus Nitish 'battle for Bihar' can be seen being fought on humongous visual scale.

And, though BJP may be up in the display quotient, the visual campaign focusing Kumar appear more specific content-wise in reaching out to the voters. So, while NDA's hoarding mostly are carrying the generic 'Badaliye sarkar, badaliye Bihar' tagline, the Grand Alliance is wooing the voters through set promises.

33 per cent reservation for women in government jobs, Wi-Fi facility at colleges and universities, student credit card, up to Rs four lakh of subsidised loan, are some of the promises that Kumar-led Alliance is making to electors, sitting on the hoardings, while NDA seems to be relying on Modi-Shah charisma to attract the voters to their camp.

RJD chief Lalu Yadav is not part of the visual campaign, except a hoarding or two, like the one at Kotwali Chowk that reads - 'Garibon ki awaz hayn Lalu, ham sab ki parvaz hayn Lalu' (Lalu is the voice of the poor...)'

Incidentally, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has come up with a somewhat direct attack on Kumar's allying with Lalu, and the hoardings go on to use the chief minister's last name as a campaign hook.

Unipoles on both sides of Fraser Road carry advertisements of LJP with chief Ram Vilas Paswan's son Chirag being fronted. The slogans are catchy and attempts to make political capital out of JD(U) aligning with RJD and Congress.

'Kiya apman aur china adhikar, Mr Kumar phir kyon is baar', reads a giant unipole ad at the busy Income Tax Circle.

'Jo la rahe phir jungle raj ho, phir kahe kahen Mr Kumar hon,' read the unipole ad on Fraser Road. 'Badha apradh, bhrastachar aur balatkar, is baar phir kyon ho Mr Kumar,' reads a big banner at Hartali Chowk.

But, amid the vocal battles in rallies and visual battle on hoardings, and supporters for both the camps, Bihar seems to be heading towards an unpredictable outcome.

However, irrespective of political allegiance, some hoardings have become quite popular among the residents of Patna.

"There's a big one in front of the Planetarium, the one that takes a turn... and it says – 'Bihar meyn bahar ho, Nitish Kumar ho (Bihar gets prosper, Nitish should reign)'. "I think, it's very catchy, and whoever wins Bihar, I hope, 'Bihar mey bahar ho' and politicians don't desert Bihar, as they have done over the years," says Manoj Kumar, a city resident.

The 'jumlon ka war' (barb-trading) has been one of the catchy themes this Bihar elections, with one party trying to score a point over the other with witty one-liners and sarcastic slogans, but who will have the last laugh in this war of words, only time will tell.

PTI

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