Patna: The political temperature in Bihar is set to go up substantially as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi take a direct plunge in electioneering Friday, addressing a series of rallies for their respective alliances in the state. Prime Minister Modi will address three rallies at Dehri-on Sone (Rohtas district), Gaya and Bhagalpur — to seek support for NDA nominees for different assembly constituencies going to vote in the first phase on October 28.
According to BJP sources and reports from the districts Thursday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will join Modi at the rallies in Dehri and Bhagalpur. In Gaya, JD(U) leader in the Lok Sabha Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan will share the dais with Modi along with former chief minister and president of Hindustani Awam Morcha Jitan Ram Manjhi. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is also slated to launch his campaign in Bihar elections Friday.
He will address two rallies Friday — at Hisua in Nawada and Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur district. Sources in the Congress as well as in the RJD said that Tejashwi Yadav, the chief ministerial face of the Mahagathbandhan, will join Gandhi at Hisua, where Congress nominee Neetu Singh is taking on sitting BJP MLA Anil Singh. In Kahalgaon, the former Congress president will be accompanied by Shaktisinh Gohil and other senior party leaders, besides some district-level office bearers and candidates of the coalition partners.
The BJP has already launched "carpet bombing" campaign for the Bihar polls with Union ministers Rajnath Singh, BJP president J P Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addressing public meetings at various places. Union Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman released the party's manifesto for the Bihar polls during the day which promised free COVID-19 vaccine once it has been cleared by the ICMR among others.
Besides, them, BJP general secretary and in-charge of the state Bhupendra Yadav, Union minister Ravishankar Prasad, union minister of state for Home Nityanand Rai, former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and state leaders such as deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, state unit chief Sanjay Jaiswal are criss-crossing the state. From ally JD(U), its head Nitish Kumar is addressing 4-5 public meetings daily and also addressing virtual rallies to reach out to maximum number of voters. In the opposition camp, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav is holding the fort in the absence of his father Lalu Prasad.
Tejashwi is addressing 8-9 rallies daily cutting short there duration for 15-20 minutes only to garner support for the candidates of his party as well as those from allies Congress and others. While the NDA in Bihar has the BJP, the JD(U), the HAM and the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) of former Bollywood set designer Mukesh Sahni, the rival grouping of five parties is spearheaded by the RJD, and the Congress, CPI, CPI(M) and CPI-ML are its members. The arrival of Modi and Rahul Gandhi on the campaign scene will heat up the poll temperature further. With the Bihar elections taking place at a time when COVID-19 is raging in the state as well as in the country and the world, adequate preventive measures are being taken at rally venues.
With social media videos showing rampant violation of COVID-19 guidelines with people without face mask and not observing social distancing at political rallies, officials and party sources said measures are being taken for safeguarding the attendees at the meetings of the two leaders. A report from Gaya quoting organisers said Thursday that Special Protection Group (SPG) has taken charge of the Gandhi Maidan, the venue of Modi's rally. Chairs have been arranged for nearly 15,000 people at adequate distance from each other. Nobody will be allowed inside the rally ground without face mask, they said.
While the PM and a handful of NDA leaders will be on the dais, a separate platform has been set up near it for the candidates, the sources said. A report from Bhagalpur said adequate arrangements are being in place for the PM's public meeting at the Airport ground.
Regarding meeting of Rahul Gandhi, senior party leader Sadanand Singh, whose son Shubhanand Mukesh is in the fray from Kahalgaon assembly seat in place of his father, told PTI, face masks and sanitisers would be distributed among people at the venue. Rohtas District Magistrate Pankaj Dikshit and Superintendent of Police Satyabir Singh said the SPG has already taken charge of the rally ground Saura. nearly 5 km from Dehri sub-division headquarters, where prime minister will address the crowd. A report from Nawada also suggested adequate preventive measures at the Inter school ground in Hisua for Rahul Gandhi's rally.
Rajnath Singh, Nadda and Yogi Adityanath in their speeches raked up national issues like abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, Lord Rama temple at Ayodhya, besides taking a swipe at the RJD's past government in Bihar for 15 years which they alleged was marked with poor law and order situation and a lack of development.