Campaigning for 7th phase ends
The fate of many stalwarts like Sonia Gandhi, Narendra Modi, LK Advani and Rajnath Singh will be decided on April 30 in the seventh phase of Lok Sabha election in 89 seats, where the high-decibel campaign marked by vicious personal attacks by leaders ended on Monday.
The seventh lap of the nine-phase elections covers constituencies in seven states, including all seats in Gujarat (26), Telangana (17) and Punjab (13), and 2 Union Territories, with over 1,000 candidates in the fray .
Gandhi’s Rae Bareli constituency, which saw Priyanka Gandhi taking up the cudgels on her mother’s behalf, Modi’s Vadodara constituency, Gandhinagar where Advani is contesting, and Singh’s Lucknow seat are among those going to polls on Wednesday.
Other prominent leaders in the fray are union minister Farooq Abdullah from Srinagar, BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi and union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal from Kanpur, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav from Madhepura.
Uma Bharti and union minister Pradeep Jain Aditya are contesting from Jhansi, union minister Jitin Prasada from Dhaurahra and chairman of National SC Commission PL Punia from Barabanki.
Modi spearheaded the BJP campaign blitzkrieg, attacking Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on the issue of development, corruption and raking up her son-in-law Robert Vadra’s land deals.
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul led the Congress offensive, accusing Modi and BJP of being divisive and communal and against the ‘very idea of India’.
Rahul raked up the issue of Modi’s alleged links to Adani group while Priyanka, who is campaigning in Amethi and Rae Bareli, took on BJP for targeting her husband, saying the party was ‘scurrying like panic-stricken rats’.
The 89 Lok Sabha constituencies that will witness polling include 11 in Uttar Pradesh, seven in Bihar, 9 in West Bengal and one each in Jammu and Kashmir, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
As many as 413 candidates in 26 seats are in the fray in Modi’s hometurf Gujarat, which is witnessing a straight fight between BJP and Congress.
Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry is challenging Modi in Vadodara, while senior leader Shankarsinh Vaghela is contesting from Sabarkantha.
AAP, striving to emerge as the third alternative, has fielded candidates in 24 constituencies.
A total of 4.05 crore voters (2.12 crore male and 1.93 crore female) are eligible to exercise franchise in Gujarat across 45,380 polling stations.
Modi campaigned in the state extensively after the completion of sixth phase on 24 April invoking his ‘son of the soil’ image and addressed six rallies on the last day.
Congress employed its two big guns, party president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi in the state. They questioned Modi’s claims about development in Gujarat.
Considering the symbolic importance of Gujarat, Congress made an all-out effort, especially in the constituencies that are its traditional bastions, making the campaigning interesting.
During the campaign, VHP leader Pravin Togadia stirred a controversy when he was caught on tape advising his supporters to forcibly occupy a home purchased by a Muslim in a Hindu-dominated locality of Bhavnagar, giving another opportunity to Modi baiters to attack him on his RSS links and the 2002 anti-Muslim riots issue.
Modi’s acknowledgement of his marriage in his election affidavit for the first time, provided some grist to the opposition’s mill.
In Uttar Pradesh, a total of 233 candidates are in fray from 11 seats, whose fate will be decided by 2.4 crore electorate.
This phase is specially important for Congress as out of 22 seats won by the party in 2009 Lok Sabha polls, seven will go to polls on Wednesday. SP had won four, BSP two and BJP has only one seat.