Election campaign ends in 3 states

Popularity test for major parties after LS polls

 
The canvassing saw top leaders of the Congress, the BJP and other major players of regional parties hitting the campaign trail in a big way. The electioneering was occasionally marred by personal attacks.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh undertook whirlwind tours of the three states, where the party is making all-out efforts to retain power.

Personal attacks

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Lal Krishna Advani, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu campaigned vigorously in all the three states.

The campaign in Maharashtra saw personal attacks with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena  chief Raj Thackeray calling Shiv Sena Working President Uddhav Thackeray a ‘snake’ and Chief Minister Ashok Chavan dubbing Raj a ‘frog’. Raj also mimicked the Congress president at a poll rally, drawing a sharp reaction from the party.

Amravati constituency in Maharashtra has come into focus as President Pratibha Patil’s son Rajendra alias ‘Raosaheb’ Shekhawat of Congress is pitted against party rebel Sunil Deshmukh.

Troubled opposition

In Haryana, the Congress is seeking a second term in office on the plank of development. The opposition is a house divided here with the BJP snapping the tie-up with Om Prakash Chautala’s INLD and the Bahujan Samaj Party coming out of an alliance with the Haryana Janhit Congress.

The opposition highlighted issues like inflation and power shortage in rural areas during the campaign.

The Congress appears confident of getting a fresh mandate from the state’s electorate due to absence of any anti-incumbency factor and also because of the fragmented opposition. On the last day of the campaigning, Sonia Gandhi rounded-off her party’s campaign by addressing rallies at Nuh and Jhajjar. Rajnath Singh addressed three rallies on the last day at Ballabgarh, Bahadurgarh and Dadri.
INLD president and former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala campaigned vigorously in a bid to reclaim the Jat constituency, which has shown signs of shifting towards the Congress in recent elections.

The Congress appears to be on a strong wicket in Arunachal Pradesh where Chief Minister Khandu Dorjee is among three party candidates elected unopposed.

In Maharashtra, the Nationalist Congress Party has been battling hard to retain its position after a poor showing in the Lok Sabha polls.

The Shiv Sena-BJP combine has also been leaving no stone unturned to wrest power in the state. Counting of votes will take place on October 22.

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