Campaigning for fourth phase of Bihar assembly polls ends

Patna, Oct 30 (IANS) Campaigning ended peacefully on Friday in 55 Bihar assembly constituencies, including 12 affected by Maoists, in the state's flood-prone fertile belt that would vote in the penultimate round of the five-phased elections on Sunday.

As many as 1,47,39,120 voters are eligible to decide the fate of 776 candidates in fray in 55 of 243 assembly constituencies spread over Gopalganj, Siwan, West Champaran, East Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur districts.

The Election Commission has ordered sealing of the international borders with Nepal and alerted security forces in the districts bordering Nepal.

The two-week canvassing saw top leaders of the grand alliance of the ruling Janata Dal-United, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress and BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as well as six left parties, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party hitting the campaign trail.

It was marked by below-the-belt comments and occasionally personal attacks and abuses to score political points. The run-up to the fourth-phase voting saw hectic campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah - camping in Bihar for nearly a month - Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, BSP supremo Mayawati, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and JD-U president Sharad Yadav apart from left leaders. All of them addressed large rallies to woo voters.

The leaders also played on several issues. The main electoral planks on which all parties are seeking votes include economic development, job quotas and battle against corruption.

They also played the caste card and equations to influence voters more than any other issue.

The grand alliance's hopes lie with the Other Backward Classes, Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs), Dalits and Muslims to counter the upper castes factor along with Paswan-Kushwaha and Manjhi factor in this round of polls.

Paramilitary forces have been deployed at all polling booths and drones would be used for the first time for surveillance, officials said.

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