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Campaigning ends for second phase of Bihar polls
October 24, 2005 18:48 IST
Bijli, sadak, pani dominated the campaign, which ended Monday evening, for the second phase of Assembly elections in Bihar on October 26.
The illegal release of Rashtriya Janata Dal candidate and Union Minister Jai Prakash Narain Yadav`s brother Vijay Prakash provided more ammunition to the National Democratic Alliance to oust the RJD, which had garnered the lion's share of the seats going to the polls.
NDA leaders also made an attempt to make an election issue of the rise in onion prices but voters, largely divided on caste lines, might not have taken it seriously.
Security considerations led the Election Commission on Monday to defer polling in three Assembly constituencies of Samastipur district - Sarairanjan, Samastipur and Dalsingh Sarai - and two constituencies of Katihar - Kadwa and Barsoi - to October 29.
Political heavyweights whose fate would be decided on October 26 include former chief minister Rabri Devi (RJD), state Congress president Sadanand Singh, former leader of Bihar Bharatiya Janata Party Legislative Party Ashwani Kumar Choubey, former leader of opposition Upendra Prasad Kushwaha (JD-U), former minister Ramai Ram (RJD), Monajir Hasan(JD-U), Pashupati Kumar Paras (LJP) and Veena Shahi (Congress).
In all, there are 1,39,04311 voters to decide the fate of 540 candidates, 186 of whom are Independents and 40 women, at 15,241 booths.
The RJD and LJP are contesting 58 seats each in the second phase, the BSP 53, the JD (U) 41, the Samajawadi Party 38, the BJP 26, the CPI (ML) 22, the Congress 15, the CPI 11, the CPI (M) 5 and and the NCP 3.
At stake are 60 seats, which will go to the polls in the second phase on October 26.
Elections in seven constituencies has been deferred mainly for security reasons. Polling would be held in these seats on October 29.
Electioneering for the second phase was peaceful and picked up after polling ended for the first phase.
It was marked by visits of important central leaders of all political parties, who took to aerial routes on chartered choppers, avoiding Bihar's infamous bumpy roads, to reach the electorate in far flung areas.
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, braving inclement weather, addressed a BJP election meeting at Purnea to bolster the prospects of NDA candidates.
Besides Lal Krishna Advani, Arun Jaitley, George Fernandes, Sharad Yadav, Nitish Kumar, Shahnabaz Hussain and Hema Malini campaigned for the NDA.
However, firebrand NDA leader from Madhya Pradesh, Uma Bharti, had to abandon her campaign programme midway following developments in her own state.
Another star campaigner for NDA, cinestar Satrughna Sinha, chose to keep himself away from the political scenario in Bihar.
Other BJP leaders who addressed election meetings included Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh.
Prominent among Congress leaders who campaigned were Mani Shankar Aiyar, Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, Sriprakash Jaiswal, Subodh Kant Sahay, Digvijay Singh, Meira Kumar, Shakeel Ahmed and Sheila Dixit.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati also hit the campaign trail.
The RJD was heavily dependent on its star campaigner Lalu Prasad.
Former chief minister Rabri Devi, contesting from Raghopur, held 'road shows'. NCP chief Sharad Pawar also addressed meetings to woo voters at different places.
LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and his electoral partner CPI leader A B Bardhan vigorously wooed the electorate.
Some 20-odd helicopters drafted for campaigning by the parties could not be used on October 21, as heavy rains lashed the state capital. Only Nitish Kumar`s chopper hovered in the sky.
The Bihar government has made tight security arrangements, under which 90,000 security personnel would be deployed for the second phase.
Chief Secretary G S Kang said the state machinery was fully geared up to hold the elections in a free and fair manner. He said 70 per cent of the polling booths would be covered by jawans of Central Para Military Forces.
Apart from the CPMFs, 40 companies of Bihar Military Police and 23,000 men of District Armed Police would be deployed during the polling, Kang added.
Five thousand digital cameras would be provided during the poll to prevent bogus voting and detect any irregularity, he said, adding that these cameras would be provided at the polling booths not manned by CPMF.