Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 26
With canvassing for 71 Bihar Assembly segments going to polls on October 28 ending today, all eyes are on Grand Alliance leaders Rahul Gandhi and Tejashwi Yadav to see if the young duo can challenge their formidable rivals Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Stakes for Tejashwi Yadav and Rahul Gandhi are equally high in the upcoming elections as they face a three-term Chief Minister battling a strong and palpable anti-incumbency wave.
But the challenge, especially for Congress, is not so much the JD-U as the BJP considering the grand old party faces saffron candidates in 37 of the 70 segments it is fighting with the BJP not bearing the anti-incumbency baggage. In 28 constituencies, the Congress is directly fighting the JD-U.
A significant number of seats the Congress is contesting in the first phase are also against BJP candidates with both parties eyeing upper caste votes. The RJD is fighting on 42 seats and the Congress on 21.
In the 2015 state poll, the Grand Alliance (RJD-JD-U and Congress) had won 54 of these 71 seats and the NDA only 15. While the RJD had bagged 27 of the 29 seats it fought, the Congress had won nine out of 13. Both the RJD and the Congress are contesting many more seats this time.
That the Congress is wooing upper castes is apparent from the fact that a majority of its candidates for the first phase are from upper caste, pitted against BJP rivals from the same caste.
Tejashwi a crowd-puller
Tejashwi Yadav for his part, has cast a great first impression on his adversaries. Crowds at his rallies have unsettled Nitish Kumar enough to snap at voters in public. Political observers are now watching if the mammoth crowds at Yadav’s meetings translate into votes. They agree that for Yadav to make an impact, the Congress must do well in Bihar, at least as well as it did in 2015 when it won 27 of the 41 seats fought.
Covid caution goes for toss in Bihar
- The Election Commission’s warning of stern action for the violation of Covid-19 protocol has gone unheeded with people gathering in huge numbers at rallies without wearing masks or caring for social distancing.
- Several senior leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, BJP in charge for Bihar poll Devendra Fadnavis, former Union Minister, and Chapra MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy, his Gaya counterpart Vijay Manjhi, have fallen victim to the contagion. PTI