Patna, Oct 26: The high-voltage campaigning for the third phase of Bihar polls ended on Monday, Oct 26 during which the rival contenders for power locked horns over the contentious issue of reservation, largely putting aside their development plank.
After a brief Dussehra break, both the NDA, spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and JD(U)-RJD-Congress combine, plunged headlong into the hurly burly of electioneering, targeting each other over issues many of which were unrelated to the state. [Bihar Election 2015: Special Coverage]
Apart from the grand alliance's claim of the Narendra Modi government contemplating to scrap quotas for SC, ST and OBCs, which provoked a counteroffensive from the Prime Minister on the last day of the campaign, Dalit burning case in Haryana's Faridabad, Union Minister V K Singh's dog remark on it, besides a video clip of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar meeting a 'Tantrik' added variety and spice to the electoral discourse.
A sting video showing JD(U) MLA Satyadev Singh purportedly accepting bribe from a businessman also gave Modi and his NDA allies ammunition to pillory the grand alliance. Addressing rallies at Chhapra, Nalanda and Patna yesterday, Modi dubbed Nitish-Lalu duo as leaders with a regressive agenda and "18th century mindset". He attacked Kumar over the "tantrik" controversy and said the RJD chief was leading "Rashtriya Jadu Tona" party.
Nitish Kumar lost no time in launching a counteroffensive saying in a tweet "the people of Bihar have made Shah and the autocrat (Modi) realise the power of democratic forces in this election... they have been rattled by an imminent defeat."
Under unrelenting assault on the quota issue, Modi today mounted a counterattack, accusing the grand alliance of plotting to take away five per cent of the quota share of SC, ST and OBC and give it to "a community" despite the Constitution and the law not providing for it, a move aimed at neutralising the rival alliance's attempts at polarisation of upper caste votes.
While Modi, who fasts during the Navratra festival, returned to the state on the last two days of campaigning, JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar and RJD boss Lalu Prasad led the charge against anti-BJP alliance. Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul visited the state for a day each and focused on targeting Modi.
Several central ministers including Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, Venkaiah Naidu, J P Nadda and Ananth Kumar campaigned at various places. BJP President Amit Shah camped at Patna and also addressed several rallies.
50 of the state's 243 assembly seats spread over six districts--Patna, Vaishali, Saran, Nalanda, Bhojpur and Buxar-- are going to polls in the third phase of the 5-phased polls.
Polling has already been held in 81 assembly seats in the first two phases.