Modi’s surprise presser, a silenced state: How bitterly fought Lok Sabha poll campaign endedhttps://indianexpress.com/elections/rahul-gandhi-modi-amit-shah-bjp-congress-mayawati-bsp-sp-elections-2019-5734183/

Modi’s surprise presser, a silenced state: How bitterly fought Lok Sabha poll campaign ended

Polling will be held on Sunday in the seventh phase in all 13 seats in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh respectively, nine in West Bengal, eight seats each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, four in Himachal Pradesh, three in Jharkhand and the lone seat Chandigarh. Counting of votes will be taken up on May 23.

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(Left to Right) Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, BJP president Amit Shah and BSP supremo Mayawati. (PTI)

Campaigning in the bitterly fought marathon Lok Sabha elections spread over 38 days drew to a close on Friday as top leaders made a final push in the seventh and concluding phase for the remaining 59 seats that included Varanasi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking to retain the seat.

Polling will be held on Sunday in the seventh phase in all 13 seats in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh respectively, nine in West Bengal, eight seats each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, four in Himachal Pradesh, three in Jharkhand and the lone seat Chandigarh. Counting of votes will be taken up on May 23.

Here’s how the last day of polling went:

A surprise entry in BJP’s press briefing

In a surprise move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed up on the dais for a scheduled press conference by BJP president Amit Shah Friday evening. Shah was there to present a detailed report card of the campaigning as well as the performance of the NDA government.

“The election has been amazing (shandar). Elections were held in a positive spirit. A government with full majority will come back after remaining in power for five years. This is probably happening after a very long time. This is a big deal in itself,” PM Modi told a large contingent of reporters after wrapping up his campaign for a second term.

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However, Modi told reporters that he will not take any questions because the press conference is being addressed by Shah and said that in BJP’s system, the discipline has to be followed.

Earlier in the day, while addressing a poll rally in MP’s Khargone, Modi said, “From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Kutch to Kamrup, the whole nation is saying- Ab ki baar, 300 paar, phir ek baar Modi sarkar,” Modi said, expressing confidence that the BJP-led alliance will win over 300 seats.

‘Showing up is half the battle’: Congress mocks PM’s first PC appearance

Leaving no stone unturned on the last day of the campaign, Congress president Rahul Gandhi mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for holding his first press conference in five years since taking office in 2014. Congress president sarcastically said it was good to see PM Modi addressing a press conference but party president Amit Shah may even allow him to “answer a couple of questions” next time.

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Meanwhile, Priyanka Gandhi during a roadshow in Mirzapur (UP) dubbed Modi as an “actor” and said it would have been better if Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan was made the prime minister.

Will not sit silent till Yogi-Modi government is uprooted: BSP

In Uttar Pradesh, the BSP president Mayawati Friday termed the BSP-SP-RLD alliance a combine of ideas and said it will not sit silent till the Yogi Adityanath led government in the state and the Modi government in the Centre were uprooted.

“Unlike the Bharatiya Janata Party, this alliance is that of ideas and it will not sit silent till it uproots the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh along with the Narendra Modi government,” the Bahujan Samaj Party supremo said while addressing rallies for the candidates of the alliance in Mirzapur and Chandauli, news agency PTI reported.

Silence in Bengal

In a first, campaigning in West Bengal was curtailed 20 hours before the scheduled time, on order of the Election Commission in the aftermath of violence between the BJP and the ruling TMC in Kolkata during BJP chief Amit Shah’s roadshow.

Read | Bengal violence: Mamata says will send PM to jail if proved BJP workers attacked Vidyasagar bust

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Hitting out at poll panel’s order to ban election campaigning in Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier called the violence occurred in Kolkata “pre-planned communal conspiracy” and accused Shah behind the riots caused in the state.

(Inputs from PTI)