Campaign ended on Tuesday for five Lok Sabha seats in Bihar where polling will be held on April 18 in the second phase of general elections. The five Lok Sabha constituencies are Bhagalpur, Banka, Katihar, Kishanganj and Purnea. The BJP had fought these five seats unsuccessfully in 2014 and this time its ally JD(U) of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is contesting from those constituencies.
Both the BJP and the JD() are contesting 17 out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Nominees of NDA ally LJP are in the fray in the remaining six constituencies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi held rallies at Bhagalpur and Katihar respectively.
Rallies were also held by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at Banka and Purnea, while the Congress’ campaign had a dash of glamour with former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu and yesteryears Bollywood actress Nagma holding a number of election meetings in Kishanganj and Katihar constituencies, which have a sizeable Muslim population.
Kishanganj was also visited by fiery Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi whose party AIMIM has fielded a candidate from the constituency.
Former Union minister Tariq Anwar, who had won Katihar on an NCP ticket five years ago, is contesting as a Congress nominee this time. The Congress also holds the Kishanganj seat though the incumbent MP Asrarul Haq died last year and the party has fielded local MLA Mohd Javed.
In Katihar, the JD(U) candidate is Dulal Chandra Goswami while it is Mahmood Ashraf in Kishanganj.
In Bhagalpur, sitting RJD MP Shailesh Kumar alias Bulo Mandal seeks to retain the seat and the main challenge has come from JD(U)’s Ajay Mandal.
In Banka, which is held by the RJD, Jayaprakash Narayan Yadav seeks to retain his seat in a three-cornered contest wherein the other principal challengers are JD(U)s Giridhari Yadav and Independent candidate Putul Kumari.
Putul Kumari had won the seat in 2010 as an Independent in a by-poll necessitated by the death of her husband Digvijaya Singh, a multiple term MP and a former Union minister. She lost in 2014 when she fought as a BJP candidate and her refusal to withdraw her nomination in favour of the JD(U) nominee has resulted in her expulsion from the party.
In Purnea, sitting JD(U) MP Santosh Kumar Kushwaha is again in the fray while Uday Singh who won the seat on a BJP ticket in 2009 but lost the seat five years later is the Congress candidate this time.