It was curtains down on the high-decibel campaigning for the fourth phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls as sparring among political rivals intensified during the last-minute canvassing on Monday.
In a cryptic jibe at the BJP, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav coined a new acronym for 'PM' -- Packers and Movers -- and stated that people have understood its meaning.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah tried to put the Congress and the Samajwadi Party in the dock, alleging both parties have vowed to weaken the fight against terrorism.
The fourth phase of polling on February 23 will decide the fate of 624 candidates in 59 Assembly segments in the districts of Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheri, Sitapur, Hardoi, Unnao, Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Banda and Fatehpur.
Of the 59 seats, the BJP had won 51 in the 2017 Assembly elections, four had gone to the Samajwadi Party, and three to the Bahujan Samaj Party. The BJP's ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) had bagged one seat.
Lakhimpur, which had hogged national news headlines after eight people, including four farmers, were killed in violence on October 3 will go to the polls in the fourth phase.
Among the prominent candidates in this phase is Uttar Pradesh Law Minister Brijesh Pathak who is facing Samajwadi party candidate and two-time corporator Surendra Singh Gandhi in the Lucknow Cantonment seat.
Pathak had won the Lucknow Central seat in 2017.
Another minister Ashutosh Tandon is in the fray from Lucknow East seat.
The Sarojini Nagar Assembly segment will witness a battle between former ED officer Rajeshwar Singh fielded by the BJP and Abhishek Mishra who had been a minister in the Samajwadi Party government.
Deputy Speaker of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly Nitin Agarwal, who had crossed over to the BJP from the Samajwadi Party, will face the electoral test in this phase.
Rae Bareli, considered as a Congress bastion will also go to the polls in this phase, with BJP's Aditi Singh in the fray from Rae Bareli. She was earlier with the Congress.
Campaigning in this phase was marked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi tearing into the Samajwadi Party during poll rallies in Hardoi and Unnao on Sunday, accusing it of being sympathetic to terrorists.
His comments came against the backdrop of a Gujarat court convicting 49 members of the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen for the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blast case and sending 38 of them to the gallows.
Addressing the poll rallies, he wondered why the terrorists had opted for bicycle, the Samajwadi Party's election symbol, to plant bombs in the initial blasts in Ahmedabad.
Modi also claimed that Akhilesh Yadav was "insecure" about his seat and had to seek help from his father whom he had "humiliated" to capture the party.
Aam Aadmi Party national convener Arvind Kejriwal slammed Modi for his cycle jibe at the Samajwadi Party and termed it an attack on the poor.
Yadav was unrelenting on this attack at the BJP as he claimed there was a 440 volt current against the ruling party in the state and that 'PM' stood for Packers and Movers.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi accused the BJP of meting out "step-motherly" treatment to Raebareli and accused Modi and Adityanath, accusing them of mismanagement during the pandemic.
As a last-minute effort to drum up support for party candidates, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra held a roadshow in Lucknow on Monday.
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