New Delhi: Facing a tough challenge from the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance in battleground Bihar, the BJP-led NDA has decided to launch a campaign blitzkrieg by holding a staggering 500 rallies, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi alone addressing 20-22 big meetings.
Modi, a seasoned campaigner and the alliance's face for the polls in which it has not projected a chief ministerial candidate, will plunge into electioneering barely two days after his arrival from a visit to Ireland and the US on September 29.
All opinion polls have predicted a photo finish in the polls, a must-win for BJP after its Delhi debacle. A victory in Bihar will give the Modi government the heft it requires to push its reform agenda, including introduction of the much-awaited GST. Modi, who remains a big draw in the state, can give it an edge in the fight.
Modi will return to the state, where he has already held four rallies so far, with a public meeting on October 2 at Banka followed by another on October 4 in Lakhisarai, both of which are going to polls in the first phase on October 12.
BJP leaders said the party has made an elaborate plan which will also see a host of Union ministers criss-cross the state every day in the run up to polls.
Top BJP leaders will be seen in joint campaign with allies, LJP, RLSP and HAM (secular).
The idea is to hold about 500 rallies which would be addressed by national and state-level leaders, sources said.
NDA sources said Nitish-Lalu combine has been trying to play the backward castes card, particularly after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's call for a review of the reservation policy, and Modi's extremely backward class identity, coupled with his development agenda, can neutralise such an attempt.
Reservation has been a sensitive issue in post-Mandal Bihar and any polarisation along caste lines will benefit the anti-BJP coalition given the presence of backward caste heavyweights like Nitish and Lalu in it.
Despite its massive victory from the state in Lok Sabha elections, BJP had lost from Banka and the party is making a concerted push to win new grounds in the places it had not fared well in the 2014 polls.
The two rival alliances have declared their candidates for all the seats barring a few, catering to their respective social base.
Bihar will have a five-phase poll between October 12 and November 5. Counting of votes will take place on November 8.