The campaign ended on Saturday for the high-stakes election of the 24 local seats of the Bihar Legislative Council scheduled for April 4, in which the electorate is made up of elected representatives from panchayati raj institutions and urban local bodies belonging to the respective constituencies.
Stemming from the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is vying for 12 seats, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) is vying for 11 seats while the Rashtriya Party Lok Janshakti led by Union Minister Pashupati Pasas presented its candidate for a seat.
The state’s main opposition, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) led by Lalu Prasad, is contesting 23 seats and has awarded one seat to the CPI.
Congress, which did not have a seat-sharing agreement with its RJD ally, is vying for 16 seats on its own.
Opposition leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, who is also RJD’s heir apparent, has engaged in an aggressive campaign, having held more than 20 public rallies in different districts which he has traveled by helicopter and by road.
“RJD believes he has a chance to perform well in the 2024 legislative elections and cannot be complacent mid-term. That is why Tejashwi himself is leading the campaign. MPs and MLCs have been tasked with campaigning intensively in their respective areas so that they can have a grip on the panchayat representatives, who count in influencing voters in Lok Sabha assemblies and polls,” a senior party official said.
In a bid to shed its Yadav-dominated party image, RJD aligned the upper castes in 10 seats. Tejashwi made an effort to underline the message. “RJD is a party from A to Z and we must give representation to all sections. Should only Yadavs receive tickets? he said recently to Bakhtiarpur.
“RJD lost the 2020 Assembly polls by a hair. But people still trust Tejashwi, and he draws huge crowds,” RJD spokesman Chittaranjan Gagan said.
The ruling alliance is challenged to retain 19 of the 24 seats up for grabs.
By 2015, the BJP won 11 seats and two more MLCs joined the party later. JD(U) won five seats and another MLC joined the party later.
BJP State Spokesperson Ashok Kumar Sinha said the BJP has worked for the people and it will show in the results.
JD(U)MLC and Senior Leader Neeraj Kumar were also confident in his party’s good show and cited CM Kumar’s work to empower panchayats and women by making reservations and also building local self-governance. “Tejashwi is a migrant politician. RJD has given tickets to many strongmen. He shows muscle and financial power,” the MLC said.
“This time the Council’s polls have taken on a greater dimension due to the rivalry between RJD and NDA which has intensified over the past two years,” said political analyst Rakesh Tiwary.
The votes will be counted on April 7.