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Divine boost to poll drive
- Aspirants mingle with pandal hoppers; toon battle hots up; surge in footfall in restaurants

Bhagalpur/Darbhanga, Oct. 15: Committee pujas are attracting not only large crowds but also politicians trying their luck in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Pujas that are drawing large crowds in spite of the scorching heat have become fertile ground for politicians to interact with the electorate on the streets. Political leaders of Kosi and the Seemanchal regions, where elections are scheduled for the first phase, are taking out time to visit puja pandals and interact with voters.

Neither the ruling NDA coalition nor the RJD-LJP combine are lagging behind in this race. Congress, too, has jumped into the fray, depending more individual efforts.

A source said public health and engineering department minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey has been one of the frontrunners in this unique campaign. Choubey, who is also BJP’s candidate from Bhagalpur, has been visiting various pandals.

On October 14, he visited a cultural programme organised by Kali Bari Sarbojonin Puja Committee at Bengalitola on Manik Sarkar Ghat Road.

Choubey, however, denied that this visit had anything to do with his campaigning.

He said: “I am not here for the purpose of campaigning. My house is very close to the temple and I am a member of the committee. I always come to the temple when I visit Bhagalpur.”

Kali Bari Sarbojonin Puja Committee general secretary Bilash Kumar Bagchi said: “We invited Choubey to the function, so I do not think he is here for campaigning.”

Parimal Kanshabanik, another member of the committee, said many politicians offered large subscriptions during puja but mostly out of religious sentiments.

Another member Sudhirranjan Mukherjee said: “All subscriptions have come out of religious sentiments and not political motives. Some of the politicians even asked us to not mention their names in our brochure as that may come under the scanner of the election commission.”

A candidate from Purnea said: “It is important for us to go to pujas. It increases out visibility among people.”

A member of a puja committee in Jamui said: “We were approached by a political party with huge donation. They wanted us to make their candidate the president for the cultural programme on Navami (October 16).”

Campaign

This Durga Puja, the political leaders have vowed not to take any rest despite the festivities all around.

They have taken the air route to woo voters and campaign for the candidates.

Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, along with the general secretary and chief speaker of BJP Ravi Shanker Prasad, addressed two meetings between 1pm and 2pm at Ranipur village of Darbhanga constituency and Barh Pokhar of Keoti constituency today.

Addressing the gathering, Prasad criticised Rahul Gandhi for his development agenda. He alleged that only the Congress should be held responsible for Bihar’s slow growth since the party was in power for nearly 40 years and was in alliance with the RJD for nearly five years. “If you vote for the Congress, the winning MLA will help Lalu Prasad form the government,” Prasad added.

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