Samastipur: As the first round of Bihar elections ended on Monday, it was clear that the BJP-led NDA was faced with a major challenge in nine of the 10 assembly constituencies in Samastipur district.
Barring Bibhutipur where the Left has a major presence, it was a direct contest in all other places between the BJP-headed grouping and the Grand Alliance of the JD-U, RJD and Congress.
In the 2010 polls, the Janata Dal-United won six seats when it was in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP as well as the Rashtriya Janata Dal won two seats each.
In Samastipur, the Grand Alliance led by the JD-U banked on its support base in Kurmi, Yadav and Muslim communities and the development work done by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to emerge on top.
The NDA is leaning on the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Samastipur witnessed a direct fight between RJD's outgoing legislator Akhtarul Shaheen and BJP's Renu Kushwaha, who was a minister in the Nitish Kumar government and joined the BJP before the election.
Two men related to LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan fought it out in Kalyanpur. They are Prince Raj, the 26-year-old candidate of Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), a BJP ally, and former MP Maheshwar Hazari, 44, of the JD-U.
In Bibhutipur, the 'Moscow' of Samastipur, the CPI-M's Ramdev Verma took on Rambalak Singh of the JD-U, the outgoing legislator, and LJP's Ramesh Rai.
In Sarayiranjan, prominent JD-U leader and number two in Nitish government Vijay Chowdhry was locked in a direct contest with BJP's Ranjit Nirguni, who is in his mid 30s.
The BJP won from Mohiuddinagar and Rosera in 2010 with the help of the JD-U.
In Hasanpur, Warisnagar, Ujiarpur and Morwa too, there were straight battles between the NDA and the Grand Alliance.
"In Samastipur, voting was more or less on caste line. The days are gone when people avoided government hospitals. Now everyone goes there for treatment," Sushil Kumar Modi, a businessman, told IANS.
Another voter, Vajeer Alam, said RJD's Shaheen was a local and was "very helpful" whenever people faced problems.