Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a first today, took on 31-year-old Tejashwi Yadav, the Chief Ministerial candidate of the opposition, in a sign of the growing nervousness of the BJP, which rules Bihar in alliance with Nitish Kumar.
Over the last weeks, Tejashwi Yadav's rallies have been drawing record crowds. The BJP had earlier dismissed it, saying crowds do not always translate into votes.
At his second rally of the day in Muzaffarur, PM Modi reminded the people about the 15-year rule of Tejashwi Yadav's parents - Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi, widely acknowledged by political rivals as a dark chapter in the state.
"People of Bihar do not keep any expectations from the "Yuvraj Of Jungle Raj" (Crown prince of the jungle raj) owing to their previous track record," PM Modi said. "He ought to be evaluated on the basis of a track record about which the people know much better than I do," added the Prime Minister.
"Forget about jobs in the public sector. Even private companies giving jobs will flee," PM Modi said, directly countering Tejashwi Yadav's promise of 10 lakh jobs at his first cabinet meeting, which was said to be the big draw in his rallies.
"Companies will shut down their offices and run away. Extortion calls will be made by those patronised by the party which has a copyright over kidnappings," PM Modi said, referring to the allegations of lawlessness and high crime rate during Lalu Yadav's rule.
Lalu Yadav is in jail, found guilty in some of the cases filed over the mammoth scam involving animal fodder. Tejashwi Yadav, his political heir, has been leading the party since 2018, when he was jailed.
Aware that the widespread corruption during his father's rule would make him an easy target for the opposition, Tejashwi Yadav has been careful to remove all visible signs of links to them rom his campaign material.
In his public addresses too, he has kept his style distinctly different from his father, sticking to facts and common sense instead of going for rhetoric.
In his speech, PM Modi asked the voters to view the assembly elections as "an opportunity to re-elect those who pulled Bihar out of darkness".
"People are well-aware of their (the RJD's) activities, and if they return to power, at the time of a pandemic, people of Bihar will have to face double trouble," he added.
Pm Modi's attack came a day after Tejashwi Yadav referred to his "six siblings" in response to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's jibe about Lalu Yadav's multiple children.
"They have eight-nine children. They have no faith in daughters. After so many daughters, they had a son. You all can see - this is the kind of Bihar they want to make," the Chief Minister had said.
"By commenting on my family, Nitish Kumar is targeting PM Modi as he also has six siblings," TEjashwi Yadav had responded. Nitish Kumar, he said, was making the fight personal, insulted women and stayed away from real issues like "inflation, corruption and unemployment".