With campaigning for the Bihar elections in its final week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will address public rallies in the state today for their respective coalitions. Organisers from both sides assured that adequate safety measures were being taken for the events amid concerns about growing coronavirus infections.
PM Modi will address three rallies – at Dehri-on Sone, Gaya and Bhagalpur — to seek votes for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in the state. Mr Kumar is expected to join PM Modi at the rallies in Dehri and Bhagalpur, news agency PTI reported.
Congress parliamentarian Rahul Gandhi is also set to hit the ground for the three-phase elections which begin next Wednesday. He will address two rallies at Hisua in Nawada and Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur district.
Tejashwi Yadav, the chief ministerial face of the “Grand Alliance” which includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress and Left parties, is likely to join Mr Gandhi at Hisua, where Congress nominee Neetu Singh is taking on sitting BJP MLA Anil Singh, PTI reported.
The BJP has already fielded its star line up for the Bihar polls with union ministers Rajnath Singh, BJP president J P Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addressing a number of public rallies.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman released the party’s manifesto on Thursday, including the promise of the free vaccines for residents of the state.
While Nitish Kumar himself has been addressing four to five public meetings every day and also addressing virtual rallies, his rival Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD has been holding as many eight to nine events in the absence of his father Lalu Yadav who is in jail.
The cameos by PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi are expected to amp up the voltage in the polls that are taking place amid the COVID-19 crisis which has necessitated extensive safety measures. Scenes at the political rallies, however, have also raised concerns about widespread violation of these rules.
Officials and party sources told news agency PTI that special measures are being taken for the safety of those attending the rallies of the of the two leaders.
According to a report, the Special Protection Group which guards PM Modi has taken charge of the venues where the Prime Minister will hold his events.
Chairs have been arranged for nearly 15,000 people at Gandhi Maidan in Gaya with adequate social distancing. Nobody will be allowed inside the rally ground without face mask, they said.
While the PM and a handful of NDA leaders will be on the main stage, a separate platform has been set up near it for the candidates, PTI reported.
At Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Kahalgaon, attendees will be given face masks and sanitisers, organisers said.
Bihar will vote in three phases on October 28, November 3 and 7 for a new government and the results will be announced on November 10.