Campaigning wraps up for Phase-I, top leaders go all out on the hustings : The Tribune India

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Campaigning wraps up for Phase-I, top leaders go all out on the hustings

Roadshows, rallies held across 21 states | 8 Union ministers in fray

Campaigning wraps up for Phase-I, top leaders go all out on the hustings

Porters carry EVMs and VVPAT machines as they trek to a remote polling station in Shillong. Reuters

Tribune News Service

Animesh Singh

New Delhi, April 17

Campaigning for the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections came to a close on Wednesday, with polling all set to take place on 102 seats across 21 states and UTs on April 19. The first phase will witness the culmination of voting in seven states, including Tamil Nadu (39 seats).

PM Narendra Modi with Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma during a public meeting in Nalbari. PTI

Other states where polling will wrap up are Uttarakhand (5), Arunachal Pradesh (2), Meghalaya (2), Mizoram (1), Sikkim (1) and Nagaland (1).

Political campaigns, rallies and roadshows reached a crescendo on Wednesday before the mandatory 48-hour silent phase commenced in the evening. Top leaders of the BJP-led NDA and the opposition INDIA bloc made a last-gasp effort to woo voters. The BJP came out all guns blazing at the INDIA bloc over corruption, dynasty politics and “insulting” the Constitution and Hinduism. The Opposition leaders, in turn, attacked the government over electoral bonds, alleged misuse of agencies, inflation and unemployment among other issues.

PM Narendra Modi addressed rallies in Assam’s Nalbari and Agartala in Tripura. He attacked Congress MP Rahul Gandhi for criticising the CPI(M) in Kerala and at the same time entering into an “opportunistic” alliance with the Left party in Tripura.

Cong’s Rahul Gandhi & SP president Akhilesh Yadav in Ghaziabad on Wednesday. Manas Ranjan Bhui

Earlier in the day, in a joint press conference with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in Ghaziabad, Rahul said the electoral bonds scheme was the “world’s biggest extortion scheme”. “No matter how much clarification the PM gives, it will make no difference because the whole country knows that the PM is the champion of corruption,” he said.

Achieved more than Cong

I came with hope in 2014, trust in 2019 and guarantee in 2024. What could not be achieved in 60 years of Cong rule, Modi achieved it in 10 years. —Narendra Modi, PM

Fight between two ideologies

This is fight between two ideologies. The Cong fought for Constitution, gave democracy. BJP wants to end democracy and abolish Constitution. —Rahul Gandhi, Cong leader

Eight Union Ministers — Nitin Gadkari, Kiren Rijiju, Sarbanada Sonowal, Sanjeev Baliyan, Jitendra Singh, Bhupendra Yadav, Arjun Ram Meghwal and L Murugan — two former CMs — Biplab Kumar Deb (Tripura) and Nabam Tuki (Arunachal Pradesh) — and former Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan (Telangana) are among those in fray.

102 seats in 21 states/UTs to go to polls on April 19

15 of these seats in eight Northeastern states

10 states/UTs to witness polling in all seats

50 Assembly, 2 LS seats to see simultaneous polls in Arunachal pradesh

In the first phase of polling, eight western Uttar Pradesh seats, five of Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, six of Madhya Pradesh, the lone Bastar seat of Chhattisgarh and 12 seats of Rajasthan will also see polling.

Gadkari is seeking his third win from Nagpur. Rijiju is contesting from Arunachal West, a constituency which he represented thrice since 2004. Sonowal is seeking a return to the Lok Sabha from Dibrugarh in Assam.

Muzaffarnagar is witnessing a keen electoral battle, with Baliyan locked in a fight with Samajwadi Party’s Harindra Malik. Jitendra Singh is aiming for a hat-trick in Udhampur. Yadav is in a contest from Alwar with Congress MLA Lalit Yadav. Meghwal is pitted against former Congress minister Govind Ram Meghwl from the Bikaner seat in Rajasthan.

Sivaganga MP Karti Chidambaram is aiming for a re-election from a seat his father won seven times. Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai is set to take the ballot test in Coimbatore where he is pitted against DMK leader Ganapathy Rajkumar.

Polling for the 543 seats for electing the 18th Lok Sabha will be held in seven phases. The votes will be counted on June 4.

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