Patna: Bitter war of words between NDA and JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance rang down the curtains on the campaign for the penultimate phase of polling for 55 seats in Bihar Assembly elections on November 1.
Polling in the fourth phase will take place in the seven districts of Muzaffarpur, Siwan, Sheohar, West Champaran, East Champaran, Sitamarhi and Gopalganj where an estimated 1.47 crore electorate are eligible to cast vote in 13,535 polling stations to select their representatives from among 776 candidates in the fray.
Among prominent personalities who are in the fray in the fourth phase are senior ministerial colleagues of chief minister Nitish Kumar-- Ramai Ram (Bochaha, SC seat), Ranju Geeta (Bajpatti) and Manoj Kushwaha (Kudni).
Considering the results of last Assembly elections in 2010, stakes are high for BJP in the fourth phase of polls.
While BJP had won 26 out of the total 55 seats of this phase in 2010, JD(U) had emerged victorious in 24, RJD 2 and Independents 3.
RJD led by Lalu Prasad has fielded its candidates from a maximum 26 constituencies this time followed by JD(U) 21 and Congress 8.
From NDA, BJP has fielded its nominees in 42 seats, LJP of Ramvilas Paswan in 5 and Hindustanti Awam Morcha and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) 4 each.
With India-African summit keeping Prime Minister Narendra Modi away from a major part of electioneering for the 4th phase, the onus fell on BJP President Amit Shah and Finance minister Arun Jaitley.
Shah, who addressed half a dozen rallies on an average in the past three days, added to the already boiling political pot with his remark at an election rally at Raxual in East Champaran yesterday that if BJP loses in Bihar, Diwali will be celebrated in Pakistan.
He had appealed to the people to ensure BJP's victory "so that disappointment descends in Pakistan".
The remark evoked strong reaction from rivals who termed it as an "attempt to communalise the elections" and the grand secular alliance delegation moving the Election Commission against the "attempt to communalise" polling in fourth and fifth phases of elections in constituencies which have a sizable Muslim population.
Lalu Prasad slammed his BJP counterpart linking the controversy with the pride of the state alleging the remark was an affront on the citizens of Bihar particularly backwards, EBCs, dalits and minorities who are "firmly rooting" for secular alliance.
The Prime Minister addressed two rallies at Gopalganj and Muzaffarpur before the campaign ended this evening at 5 PM.
Continuing with his earlier attack on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad, the PM again alluded to "sinister plan" of Nitish and Lalu to carve out 5 per cent quota from OBC, SC and ST to give to a particular community.
Besides, regular counter-offensive from Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad to NDA leaders, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi came to Bihar for a day's campaign in the fourth round and attacked the PM.
While campaigning for this phase, the Prime Minister and his rivals fired salvos at each other, taking a cue from Bollywood films.
Reacting to Nitish Kumar parodying a poem against him on the lines of a song of from Amir Khan-starrer movie "3 Idiots", Modi took a potshots at the CM for choosing the song as three parties JD(U), RJD and Congress had joined hand to form an anti-BJP grouping.
Rahul Gandhi and other grand secular alliance leaders poked fun at the PM and linked him with the character of "virus" in the mega blockbuster.
Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Uma Bharti and cinestar and BJP MP from Mathura Hema Malini campaigned for NDA candidates.
Actor Ajay Devgn also extended his helping hand to BJP candidates in some constituencies.