Top political leaders hit campaign trail in Jharkhand

Ranchi, Nov 21 ( Campaigning has gained momentum in Jharkhand where the first phase of the assembly elections is due Nov 25. Senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Rajnath Singh hit the campaign trail Saturday, while the Congress has fielded its star campaigner Rahul Gandhi who will address many rallies across the state.

On Friday, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and BJP president Rajnath Singh addressed poll rallies.

In the first phase, voting will be held for 26 of the 81 assembly seats.

On Saturday, Advani, Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu will campaign jointly with Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Advani and Sharad Yadav will jointly address three rallies at Nala, Godda and Deoghar, while Rajnath Singh and Nitish Kumar will jointly address three rallies at Mahagama, Baghmara and West Jamshedpur assembly seats. Naidu will address two rallies and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh will address four rallies along with Jharkhand state BJP leaders.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi will address three rallies at Littipara, Jamtara and Kanke assembly seats Saturday. The Jharkhand Congress in-charge Kesav Rao is monitoring the election campaign. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati will also address a rally in Ranchi for her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) is fighting the elections alone. JMM chief Shibu Soren has taken charge of the poll campaign and is addressing three to five rallies everyday.

For their campaign, the Congress and BJP have hired two helicopters each to ferry their leaders.

Political pundits say the first phase will set the trend of voting pattern in the state.

Five-phased assembly polls will be held in Jharkhand Nov 25-Dec 18.