Updated: October 27, 2020 7:24:08 am
Campaigning for 71 seats in the first phase of the high-stakes election for Bihar, being held in the middle of the Covid pandemic, came to an end on Monday, with polling set to take place on Wednesday.
The last day saw a spree of election meetings by the major contenders in the election fray, including Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav and the LJP’s Chirag Paswan, along with senior BJP leaders J P Nadda, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Nityanand Rai.
Tejashwi, the chief ministerial candidate of the Mahagatbandhan, left his 10, Circular Road, home in Patna holding a garland of onions, thus adding price rise and inflation to his attacks on the Nitish government.
Economic distress was writ large in Bihar with farmers, youth and businessmen struggling to put together food for their families, Tejashwi told reporters.
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“The BJP once used to roam around wearing these garlands of onions when there was price rise… Many spoke about onion rates when these were Rs 50 a kg, now when they are Rs 80 a kg, they are keeping quiet.”
Senior RJD leaders said price rise was not a new issue for them, and that economic downturn, uncertainty and inflation were all linked to each other.
“We found that on the ground, people were talking about these issues — rise in prices of onions and potatoes,” said RJD MP Manoj Jha.
Tejashwi maintained his whirlwind pace of rallies, holding 13 across five districts on Monday — including one in Hasanpur from where his brother Tej Pratap is contesting, as well as Raghopur from where he is seeking re-election.
The CM has repeatedly asked voters to recall the “days of jungle raj” under Lalu Prasad, saying that only in the last 15 years under him has the condition of Bihar’s roads, health infrastructure and education improved.
PTI reported that a slipper was flung towards the CM as he was leaving after the rally in Sakra, Muzaffarpur. Nitish has faced protests at several of his election meetings, losing his cool at times and admonishing the crowds.
In Purnea, referring to the RJD, Union minister Prasad said, “There are leaders speaking of a ‘new Bihar’. But in their posters, the photographs of his (Tejashwi’s) parents, who ruled the state for seven-and-a-half years each, are missing. Why are you so ashamed?”
Continuing his attack on Nitish, LJP president Chirag accused the CM of “dreaming of becoming the Prime Minister”.
Drawing large crowds at each of his seven rallies, he said innocent people were being thrown in jail under the Prohibition law so that they would not speak against the government.
A total of 71 seats across 16 districts will go to polls in Phase 1, with 1,066 candidates in all — 852 of them male.
In the second phase, 94 constituencies in 17 districts will vote on November 3; and the third and final phase of the elections will see voting in 78 constitutencies in 15 districts on November 7.
Bihar election results will be declared on November 10.
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