Campaigning came to an end on Tuesday for four of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar going to polls in the first of seven-phase polls in the state on April 11.
Polling in this phase will be held in Gaya, Nawada, Jamui and Aurangabad parliamentary constituencies. All of them fall in Maoist-affected areas.
The over two-week-long canvassing saw top leaders of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and their constituents — Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) — as well as by leaders of the opposition Grand Alliance comprising Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Vikasshil Insan Party (VIP).
Besides, six left parties, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) also hit the campaign trail.
A bitter war of words was witnessed during the campaigning, occasionally marred by personal attacks and unparliamentary language targeted at each other.
The run-up to the elections saw a hectic campaigning by star campaigners like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, among others.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, RJD leader and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi, Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav, RLSP chief and former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi also addressed a large number of poll rallies to woo the voters.
About 70 lakh voters are eligible to decide the fate of 44 candidates in the first round of polling on Thursday.
The leaders also played several issues. The main electoral planks on which all parties are seeking votes include economic development, job quotas and battle against corruption. The BJP also highlighted action against terror from Pakistan.
However, political observers feel that in many places, caste equations will influence the voters more than anything else.
The NDA is banking on upper castes, EBCs, OBCs and Dalits, while the Grand Alliance’s hopes lie with the OBCs, EBCs, Muslims and Dalits.
Prominent candidates in the fray are HAM chief Jitan Ram Manjhi from Gaya seat, LJP candidate Chirag Paswan, and Bollywood-actor-turned politician and son of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, from Jamui seat.
The para military forces have been deployed to ensure security at all polling booths and drones will be used for the first time for surveillance, officials said.