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Star shower to scorch election pitch

Patna, March 31: Brace for a star shower as parties ready to put their best face forward nine days before the first phase of polling for Lok Sabha elections kicks off.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to address an election meeting in Aurangabad tomorrow, while party president Sonia Gandhi will hold an election rally in Sasaram on April 3. Both Sonia and Rahul are likely to hold one more rally each in the state over the next couple of weeks.

Even the BJP is planning a similar high-voltage show. Its star campaigner, prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, will address two election rallies at Nawada and Buxar on Wednesday.

Even regional parties like the JD(U) and RJD have intensified their campaign with chief minister Nitish Kumar and RJD president Lalu Prasad making whistle-stop tours of the state.

According to Election Commission norms, the names of star campaigners have to be submitted to the poll panel within seven days of notification of the elections.

A recognised party can invite as many as 40 star campaigners while a registered but unrecognised one can invite 20.

The Congress and the BJP have made full use of the star campaigner provision. The parties have submitted a list of 40 names to the poll panel.

Regional parties are not far behind in spicing up their campaign by adding star power. Be it the JD(U), the RJD, BSP, LJP or the CPI(ML) they have submitted names of 40 star campaigners each.

According to the list of star campaigners submitted to the chief electoral officer, Bihar, the Congress has roped in leaders like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Union law minister Kapil Sibal among others.

“Rahulji and Soniaji have confirmed their attendance at rallies on Tuesday and Thursday. The dates when the prime minister and other senior leaders would address rallies in Bihar is yet to be communicated to the state unit,” said Prem Chandra Mishra.

Leading the pack of BJP star campaigners is its prime ministerial candidate Modi, party president Rajnath Singh, party patriarch L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Murli Manohar Joshi among others.

State BJP spokesperson and newly elected MLC Sanjay Prakash Mayukh said: “Rajnathji would address an election meeting at Aurangabad, Taradih, Ara and Jamui on April 3. Though we have apprised Election Commission about campaign programmes by leaders like Advaniji, Sushmaji and Jaitleyji, the dates have not been decided yet.”

BSP president Mayawati and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee might also turn up to seek votes for candidates of their respective parties in Bihar.

The Aam Aadmi Party has submitted names of its leading faces like former Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Shazia Ilmi for electioneering in the state. However, the party’s Bihar founder member Ratnesh Choudhary seemed doubtful of their arrival to campaign in the state.

“Kejriwal, Ilmi and Kumar Viswas would be busy in their respective constituencies of Varanasi, Amethi and Ghaziabad. Thus, there is not much probability they would come to Bihar for electioneering,” said Choudhary.

No actors, cricketers

None of the parties is inviting actors, cricketers or other celebrities, unless in the party, for electioneering duty in Bihar, as apparent from the list they have submitted to the poll panel in Bihar.

Several actors-turned-politicians will be in Bihar over the next couple of weeks. The Congress has submitted names two star campaigners — its Ghaziabad candidate Raj Babbar and the Meerut candidate, actress Nagma — to the poll panel. The BJP has submitted names of cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and actress Smriti Irani.


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