For attacking the RJD, their constant refrain was “jungle raj”, “lantern era”, “kidnapping industry”, slamming the party over its record on law and order. At a rally on October 28, PM Modi had targeted Tejashwi, calling him “Jungle Raj Ke Yuvraj (the crown prince of jungle raj)”.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed two rallies for this phase of elections where he cornered Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over the issues of unemployment, migrant crisis, farm laws and sugar mills. He had said the prime minister talks about other countries in his speeches but not about the issues facing the nation such as unemployment.
Tejashwi, in the meanwhile, scaled up the intensity of his campaign and addressed close to a dozen, or even more, rallies every day since the voting for phase 1 of election on October 28. He kept his focus on his promise of 10 lakh jobs, while also assailing Kumar over a record “46.6 per cent unemployment”, poor status of education and health facilities, the handling of the coronavirus crisis among other things.
Tejashwi’s salvos drew stinging response from Kumar who tried to blunt his attack by comparing the law and order situation under the RJD’s government (1990-2005) with that under his 15 rule and constantly reminding the voter that RJD chief Lalu Yadav has been implicated for corruption and is serving a jail term. Kumar also kept counting his government’s work on power, road and giving reservation to women in local bodies.
He also said that he would prefer population-proportionate reservation. With massive crowds thronging these rallies, COVID- 19 guidelines on social distancing were flagrantly violated.
Tejashwis elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav is also in the fray in this phase. Among other prominent faces whose fate would be closed in EVMs in this phase are: BJP leader and Road Construction Minister Nand Kishore Yadav (Patna Sahib), JD(U) lawmaker and Rural Development Minister Shrawan Kumar (Nalanda), BJP MLA and Cooperative Minister Rana Randhir Singh (Madhuban), and JD(U) leader and state minister Ramsevak Singh (Hathua).
Also in the fray is Chandrika Roy (JDU), the father of Tej Pratap Yadavs estranged wife Aishwarya Rai, who in her campaign has been highlighting the alleged “ill-treatment” meted out to her by RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s family. This phase is also very crucial for Chirag Paswan- led Lok Janshakti Party which has fielded 52 candidates.
Their performance in this phase will indicate if the issues raised by Paswan during his campaign — corruption charges against Nitish Kumar, education degrees getting delayed, lack of jobs, and migration for livelihood — found resonance among the people. The RJD has 56 candidates in the fray this phase, the BJP 46, the JD(U) 43, the RLSP 36 and the Congress 24.