Ravi Shankar Prasad in Patna Sahib, Ram Kripal Yadav in Pataliputra, R K Singh in Arrah and Ashwani Choubey in Buxar are all having a tough time, reports M I Khan from Patna.
Stakes are high for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the seventh and last phase of Lok Sabha polls in Bihar as four Union ministers are facing a tough electoral battle. They are seeking votes in the name of Modi, and nothing else.
Four Union ministers -- Ravi Shankar Prasad from Patna Sahib, Ram Kripal Yadav from Pataliputra, R K Singh from Arrah and Ashwani Choubey from Buxar -- are in the fray in the last phase of Lok Sabha elections.
All four are working overtime to ensure their victory.
In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party had won five out of the eight seats going to polls on Sunday, including all the four from where the Union ministers are contesting.
Winning these seats is important for the BJP this time and, therefore, Modi addressed rallies in Buxar and Pataliputra, while BJP president Amit Shah addressed election meetings in all these seats.
Prasad, a Supreme Court lawyer and former party spokesperson, is contesting from the Patna Sahib constituency, considered a stronghold of the BJP for over two decades.
But Prasad, who belongs to Patna, is contesting Lok Sabha polls for the first time. Till now he has been a Rajya Sabha MP.
The BJP has fielded him after it denied ticket to the sitting party MP Shatrughan Sinha, who later joined the Congress.
Sinha is now the Congress candidate from Patna Sahib.
He is a well-known face in Bihar and used to be one of the star campaigners for the BJP till 2014.
Both Prasad and Sinha belong to the Kayasth caste, having a sizeable population in the constituency.
However, Prasad is not taking any chances and BJP leaders and workers are campaigning like never before.
Party president Shah held a roadshow in the constituency on May 11.
Sinha is also not far behind in wooing voters. The Bihari Babu, as he is popularly known, is visiting different localities and villages ignoring the heat wave. Even his wife Poonam Sinha is in Patna to campaign for him.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi too held a roadshow on May 16 for Sinha.
Ram Kripal Yadav is facing a big challenge from Pataliputra seat where jailed Rashtriya Janata Dal's chief Lalu Prasad Yadav's elder daughter Misa Bharti is contesting against him.
Bharti, a Rajya Sabha MP, in the absence of her father, is playing the emotional card to make a big dent in Ram Kripal's support base, which mostly consists of Yadavs.
Bharti had contested unsuccessfully in 2014 from the seat, when she was defeated by Ram Kripal.
Ram Kripal had quit the RJD to join the saffron fold after being denied a ticket for the Lok Sabha polls by Lalu. He revolted when Lalu decided to field his daughter Bharti from Pataliputra.
Ashwani Choubey is also facing a tough battle in Buxar which he won in the last polls. Choubey, infamous for his controversial remarks, is being challenged by RJD candidate Jagdanand Singh, a well-connected leader.
Choubey is trying hard to seek votes in the name of Modi to retain the seat, but except Brahmins, other upper castes, particularly the Rajputs, are unlikely to support him.
They are backing Singh, who is also a Rajput.
Though Buxar is a Brahmin-dominated seat, anti-incumbency against Choubey is giving sleepless nights to BJP leaders, who are banking on the support base of ally Janata Dal-United among the backward castes and Dalits to see him through.
R K Singh, former home secretary who joined the BJP in 2014, is seeking re-election from Arrah constituency. However, it is not easy for him this time, unlike 2014.
He is challenged by Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist Raju Yadav who supported by the grand alliance of Congress and RJD.
Arrah is considered a stronghold of the CPI-ML as well as of the RJD. With Raju in the fray supported by the grand alliance, Singh has taken help from some tainted and criminal-turned-politicians belonging to the powerful Bhumihar caste to woo voters.
But the prime trouble for Singh is the reluctance of JD-U leader Meena Singh to campaign for him.
Bihar's ruling JD-U's former MP, Meena Singh, also a Rajput, was keen to contest this time but the seat remained with the BJP under the seat=sharing formula of the National Democratic Alliance. Since then, she has been distancing herself from campaigning.
Another major problem that Singh is facing is the consolidation of Yadav, Muslim, Dalit, Kushwaha and Mallah voters who constitute more than 60 per cent of the constituency's population and are supporting Raju.