Campaigning ends in 11 states, one UT
The high voltage campaign in the Lok Sabha elections on Tuesday came to an end in 117 seats spread across 12 states going to polls on Thursday in the sixth of nine phases of polling.
The campaign drew to a close at 6 pm when leaders wound up public addresses and workers fanned out for house-to-house canvassing 36 hours ahead of polling.
Prominent leaders whose electoral fortunes will be decided include Union ministers Salman Khurshid, Milind Deora, Namo Narayan Meena, Jitendra Singh and Tariq Anwar, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit, actor-turned-politician Hema Malini of BJP and former cricketer Mohd Azharuddin.
Seeking to exploit national as well as local issues to the hilt, leaders of major political parties raised contentious issues, inviting complaints from opponents that they were making hate speeches.
Altogether 2,087 candidates figure in the sixth phase.
Polling will take place in Tamil Nadu (39 seats), Maharashtra (19), Uttar Pradesh (12), Madhya Pradesh (10), Bihar and Chhattisgarh (7 each), Assam and West Bengal (6 each), Rajasthan (5), Jharkhand (4) and Puducherry and Jammu and Kashmir (1 each).
The single-phase polling in all the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu will decide the fate of over 800 candidates from AIADMK, DMK, BJP, Congress and DMDK besides others.
The high-decibel vote canvassing exercise was dominated by a series of barbs, charges and counter-charges as arch rivals DMK and AIADMK are eyeing the results as a self assessment exercise ahead of assembly polls, just two years away.
Top leaders across the political spectrum--Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, L K Advani, Prakash Karat, J Jayalalithaa, M Karunanidhi and MK Stalin-- wooed the 5.5 crore voters.
The Gujarat chief minister himself addressed a series of rallies in anticipation of his party-led NDA returning a significant number of seats, while non-NDA parties indulged in Modi-bashing almost everywhere.
Jayalalithaa, nurturing larger national ambitions, trained her guns on BJP, following accusations that her AIADMK was the ‘B-Team’ of the saffron party.
Campaign for the third and final phase of Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra ended this evening with around 3.18 crore voters expected to decide the fate of 338 candidates.
Prominent candidates in the the poll arena include PWD minister and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal (Nashik), Union minister Milind Deora (Mumbai South) of Congress and Water Resources Minister and NCP leader Sunil Tatkare (Raigad).
In Uttar Pradesh, campaigning for the third phase, considered most crucial for several political stalwarts, ended in 12 seats figuring in the third phase of polling in which the fate of 187 candidates would be decided by 1.98 crore voters.
While the prestige of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family is at the stake in this region spread over western parts of the state, Hema Malini is in fray from Mathura seat.
Mulayam is fighting to retain his traditional Mainpuri seat, while in Farukkhabad Union minister Salman Khurshid in fray.
BJP and BSP are contesting on all 12 seats, whereas Congress has not fielded candidates against Mulayam and his daughter-in-law Dimple.
In Madhya Pradesh, 1.69 crore voters will decide the popularity of 118 candidates in the third and final phase of polling in 10 seats.
Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj is in the fray in Vidisha, while senior BJP leader Sumitra Mahajan is contesting from Indore.
The seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar figuring in the third phase includes the high profile Bhagalpur seat which would test acceptability of Narendra Modi by the minority community.
108 candidates are in the fray and their fate will be decided by 1.04 voters in the seven constituencies located in Seemanchal areas of Bihar bordering Bangladesh and Nepal. BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain, NCP general secretary Tariq Anwar and former Union minister and RJD leader Mohammad Taslimuddin are among the prominent candidates in this round.
As in the previous phases, BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed rallies at Katihar and Supual, while BJP president Rajnath Singh made a whirlwind tour of Purnia, Araria, Supual and Bhagalpur.