As people of 71 Assembly constituencies of Bihar woke up on Oct 28 morning to exercise their franchise in the first phase of polls, they were surprised to find new posters showing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Nitish Kumar together.
This is a significant departure from the past as both these two main constituents of the National Democratic Alliance–the Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party have been releasing different posters. While in one only Nitish Kumar is being shown the other used to carry only the picture of Narendra Modi.
This had caused a lot of confusion in the rank and file of the NDA and its third partner, the Lok Janshakti Party has fully exploited this situation.
The latest move is being interpreted as a damage limitation exercise as the saffron party too has started realising its impact on the BJP too. Till now a section of the BJP leaders wanted to cut Nitish to size while the other faction has strongly been rooting for him.
However, independent political observers are of the view that it is too little too late and the damage has been done as the voters have already made up their minds.
Meanwhile, voting has started on a brisk note in 71 constituencies where 1066 candidates are trying their luck. They include former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi from Imamganj in Gaya district where he is taking on former Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary of RJD.
Besides, eight ministers of the Nitish cabinet are locked in a grim battle with the Grand Alliance and LJP candidates. Some of these constituencies are Naxal affected ones and full security arrangements have been made.