PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi have one thing in common -- they are all star campaigners who are not contesting these staggered Bihar elections.
Star campaigners of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as well as the Grand Alliance of the ruling JD-U, RJD and Congress are not in fray in the assembly polls, which have turned into a major popularity test.
Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad, his wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi, senior BJP leader and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi are working hard to woo voters during the ongoing campaign and they are not contesting the polls.
There is only one exception.
Former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha president Jitan Ram Manjhi, who is contesting from two assembly constituencies - Makhdumpur in Jehananad and Imamganj in Gaya districts, where polls were held on Friday in the second phase of five phased Bihar assembly polls.
Manjhi's HAM is partner of the BJP-led NDA but he has repeatedly expressed his eagerness to again become the chief minister.
BJP leaders have repeatedly said the name of the chief ministerial candidate would be decided after the polls if the NDA wins two-thirds majority.
Interestingly, both Nitish and Lalu are leading the campaign of the grand alliance. Similarly Sushil Modi, who is locally known as 'Sumo', is leading the BJP led NDA campaign and regarded as one of the main contenders for the chief minister's post, if the NDA wins the polls.
The grand alliance has declared Nitish Kumar as its chief ministerial candidate for the state assembly polls and he would take the top post again if the grand alliance wins.
Taking a swipe at BJP-led NDA alliance for not declaring any chief ministerial candidate ahead of the state assembly polls, Lalu Prasad earlier this month said: "We (the grand alliance) have dulha (bridegroom) Nitish Kumar. But BJP-led NDA has no dulha."
Though Rabri Devi is not in the fray, she is busy campaigning for her two sons - Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejaswi Yadav, who are contesting from Mahua and Raghopur assembly constituencies.
"Rabri is working hard by knocking the doors of villagers and visiting as many villages as possible in these two assembly seats for the sake of her sons, who are facing a tough political battle," an RJD leader said.
JD-U spokesperson Nawal Sharma said Nitish Kumar is the face of the grand alliance in all 243 constituencies.
According to JD-U leaders, Nitish Kumar has not contested elections since 2004. The last time Nitish contested polls were the Lok Sabha elections from Nalanda in 2004.
However, since the 2005 assembly elections, Nitish has not contested any election but has entered the state assembly through the Upper House by becoming Member of Legislative Council.
Sushil Kumar Modi has also not contested any elections since 2005. He is a legislator of the Bihar Legislative Council.
Lalu is not contesting the polls after he was convicted in the multi-crore fodder scam and debarred from contesting elections by the apex court.
State Congress president Ashok Choudhary, BJP state president Mangal Pandey and JD-U state president are also not in the fray this time.