Campaigning came to an end on Saturday for the single-day election in Uttarakhand and Goa, two states known for political volatility where the BJP is attempting to retain power, and for the second phase of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh on February 14.
While the BJP leaders have been asking voters to again go for a “double-engine government”, a reference to the same party being in power at the Centre and in the state, to ensure development, opposition parties like the Congress and the AAP have been targeting the saffron party on issues like price rise, farmers’ protest and alleged divisive agenda.
Polling is scheduled to be held on all the 70 Assembly seats in Uttarkhand and 40 constituencies in Goa, besides 55 seats in Uttar Pradesh, on Monday while the counting of votes will be taken up on March 10.
A host of top leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held a series of rallies in support of their party candidates as the ban on physical rallies was lifted in a phased manner by the Election Commission’s (EC) from February 1.
Electioneering, which drew to a close at 6 PM in accordance with the EC guidelines, was affected for the most part by Covid-19 restrictions, including a ban on physical rallies, forcing the political parties to confine to virtual rallies and scaled-down door-to-door campaigns.
Before the start of the silence period, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami promised to bring the Uniform Civil Code in the state if the BJP is voted to power, bringing into spotlight the controversial issue yet again.
A common civil code will promote social amity and gender equality besides strengthening women empowerment, Dhami said.
The issue of not allowing Hijab in Karnataka schools and colleges has also been raised by parties with protests being held in several states.
On the last day of campaigning, Modi held a rally in Rudrapur, Adityanath in Tehri and Kotdwar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Kapkot, Salt and Ramnagar, while Shah addressed rallies in Dhanolti, Sahaspur and Raipur, besides taking part in a door-to-door campaign in Haridwar and performing puja at Har ki Pauri.
At the Rudrapur rally, the prime minister appealed to the people of the state not to let the Congress’s “agenda of appeasement” succeed in the election, describing it as an opportunity for them to wipe out the opposition party that has already been uprooted from many states.
Priyanka Gandhi, at her rallies in Khatima and Haldwani, raised the issues of inflation, unemployment and the plight of farmers. She alleged that the three agriculture laws that led to a year-long farmers’ protest were meant to bring more prosperity to Modi’s billionaire industrialist friends at the cost of the farmers.
Though the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has thrown all its might into these polls to make the contest triangular, the Congress and the BJP, which have been in power alternately in the state since its creation in 2000, are locked in a straight contest in most of the seats.
A total of 301 candidates are in the fray for 40 constituencies in Goa.
Besides the BJP, Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and the Trinamool Congress, there are other parties in the fray — Goa Forward Party (GFP), Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), NCP, Shiv Sena, Revolutionary Goans, Goencho Swabhimaan Party, Jai Mahabharat Party and Sambhaji Brigade.
There are also 68 Independent candidates which include rebels from the main political parties. Utpal Parrikar, son of late BJP stalwart Manohar Parrikar, is contesting from Panaji as Independent after the BJP denied him a ticket from the seat.
Laxmikant Parsekar, a former chief minister who is contesting from Mandrem, too had been denied a ticket by the BJP.
The BJP, which has not entered into any pre-poll alliance, is trying to retain power in the coastal state.
Congress had won 17 seats in the 2017 elections and emerged as the largest single party, but could not form a government as the BJP cobbled together a coalition.
In the last five years, many Congress MLAs deserted the party, reducing its strength to two MLAs.
The AAP is contesting 39 seats. During the campaign, the party’s National Convener Arvind Kejriwal promised to replicate the “Delhi Model” in Goa and provide a “corruption-free government”.
Mamata Banerjee-led TMC is the latest entrant in Goa’s electoral politics and will contest 26 seats. The TMC is fighting the election in alliance with the MGP, the oldest political party in the state which is contesting on 13.
The NCP and Shiv Sena have entered into a pre-poll alliance. While the Sena is contesting on 11 seats, the NCP is contesting on 13.
Sena leaders Aaditya Thackeray and Sanjay Raut campaigned in the state.
The high-decibel campaigning for 55 Uttar Pradesh Assembly seats saw senior leaders from major parties – BJP, SP, BSP, CONG, RLD- attempting to woo voters till the last minute.
As many as 586 candidates are in the fray in this phase with the seats spread across nine districts of Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Amroha, Budaun, Bareilly and Shahjahanpur.
The areas going to polls in this phase have a sizeable Muslim population influenced by religious leaders of the Barelvi and Deoband sects. These areas are considered to be the stronghold of the Samajwadi Party.
The prominent faces in the fray in this phase include senior Samajwadi Party leader Mohammad Azam Khan, who has been fielded from his stronghold Rampur seat, and several state ministers.
Khan’s son Abdullah Azam has been fielded from the Swar seat.
In Uttar Pradesh, of the 55 seats going to polls in this phase, the ruling BJP had won 38 in 2017, while the Samajwadi Party had bagged 15 and the Congress two. The SP and the Congress had contested the last Assembly election in an alliance.
The state is having a seven-phase election.
Campaigning for the BJP, Prime Minister Modi had attacked the dynastic parties and stressed that his party’s government was necessary for the state to maintain law and law and ensure development.
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav had targeted the state government, saying that “Azam Khan is in jail for building university, son of a Union minister is out of jail” in the case of running over farmers.
This is the “new India of the BJP”, he had said mockingly.
BSP chief Mayawati alleged that Muslims, Dalits and Brahmins have suffered under the BJP government.