Campaigning drew to a close this evening in 67 constituencies of Uttar Pradesh for the second phase of elections as well as in 69 seats in Uttarakhand for the polls on February 15.
The high-voltage campaigning saw the top brass of the main parties in fray addressing a slew of rallies, roadshows and public meetings in both the states.
Uttar Pradesh is witnessing a triangular contest among Samajwadi Party, Congress and BSP while the fight in Uttarakhand is an interesting one as about a dozen rebel candidates in fray as Independents may upset the calculations of Congress and BJP which have been traditionally the two main contenders for power in the state.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah championed the cause of the saffron party during the campaigning in Uttar Pradesh, the SP-Congress alliance’s charge was spearheaded by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, besides other leaders of the respective parties.
BSP supremo Mayawati wooed the voters addressing one rally after another all by herself, with senior party leader S C Misra chipping in at certain places.
The 67 constituencies in the state are spread across 11 districts—Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Bareilly, Amroha, Pilibhit, Kheri, Shahjahanpur and Badaun.
Of the seats at stake, ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) had won 34 in 2012, followed by BSP 18, BJP 10, Congress 3 and others 2.
In Uttarakhand, Modi and Shah held about half a dozen rallies, while Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley sought support for their party candidates through public meetings.
In their rallies in neighbouring UP, both Modi and Shah slammed the Congress and SP, saying Rahul ran a campaign against the SP government and wondered what change of heart made them embrace each other now.
Akhilesh and Rahul harped on demonetisation, alleging that Modi’s note ban decision had caused immense hardship to those living in the rural areas.
Keeping in mind that western Uttar Pradesh had vast tracts of agricultural land, Modi played the pro-poor and pro-farmers card and reiterated BJP’s promise of waiving loans of small and marginal farmers and paying the dues of sugarcane growers within 14 days of coming to power.
Interestingly, political bigwigs, including SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were conspicuous by their absence from the campaign trail in the first two phases of polling.