With 40 Lok Sabha seats, results in Bihar would play an important role for both the NDA and the Mahagathbandhan
Following the mega Opposition rally organised by West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, the political focus has shifted to the neighbouring state of Bihar.
Nitish, Modi to share stage
In a first, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are set to share stage at a public meeting scheduled to be held between February 24 and March 3.
The rally will also include Lok Janshakti Party (LJP)’s Ram Vilas Paswan.
While Nitish and PM Modi have shared the dais for state functions, they have not held a joint rally.
Following the Gujarat riots in 2002, Nitish had asked its ally BJP to not send Modi to campaign in Bihar. The BJP had complied with the request till as late as 2010.
Nitish’s Janata Dal (United) quit the NDA in 2013, in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Congress’ mega rally at historic venue
The Indian National Congress is set to hold a public meeting on February 3 at the historic Gandhi Maidan in Patna. The rally would be Congress’ first at the venue in 30 years.
The rally will be addressed by Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress last organised a rally at the venue in 1989, which was addressed by then-prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
A senior Congress leader said the rally was aimed not only at the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) but also the RJD.
“An impressive rally at Gandhi Maidan will strengthen our bargaining power on the number of seats we contest under the Grand Alliance banner,” the Congress leader told the news website.
What makes Bihar important?
Bihar sends 40 Members of Parliament (MPs) to the Lok Sabha. Performing well in the state is crucial for both NDA and the Mahagathbandhan.
In 2014, BJP won 22 seats in the state. This was followed by LJP’s six. JD (U), which had then fought the polls separately, managed to win just two seats. RJD had won four seats followed by RLSP and Congress’ three and two seats, respectively. Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had won one seat.The BJP-led NDA is facing a stiff challenge from the RJD-led Opposition alliance.