The three week-long campaigning for 117-seat Punjab Assembly ended on Saturday evening with ruling SAD-BJP alliance and opposition Congress putting their best foot forward to wrest power in the 30th January polls.
The campaigning by and large remained peaceful in the state which saw national leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, BJP leaders L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Uma Bharti and BSP Chief Mayawati criss-cross the state.
Besides Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, the other campaigners included Team Anna members who, however, did not advocate in favour or any political party confining their campaign to corruption and setting up of a strong Lokpal.
Film and TV actors Hema Malini, Shatrughan Sinha, Rajesh Khanna, Kirron Kher and Samriti Irani and a host of local singers and actors, including Gurdas Mann, Harbhajan Mann and Gurpreet Ghuggi besides cricketer-turned-politicians Navjot Sidhu and Mohd Azharudin added to the colour.
The other leaders who visited the state included Union Ministers Ambika Soni and Ghulam Nabi Azad, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, former Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Haryana Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Om Parkash Chautala, respectively.
Leaders of Left and other parties, including Brinda Karat and Sitaram Yechury, also toured the state which will see a total of 1,078 candidates, including 93 women, in fray. About 1.76 crore voters, including 83.61 lakh women, will seal the fate of the candidates at 19,841 polling stations, including five identified as “hyper sensitive” and 32 as “sensitive”.
Besides Punjab Police personnel, about 200 companies of central paramilitary forces will be deployed in the state to ensure free and fair polling.
Electioneering comes to end in Uttarakhand
Electioneering outdoor for the 30th January assembly poll in Uttarakhand on Saturday came to an end after which candidates switched over to door-to-door campaign in a last-minute attempt to woo voters.
A total of 788 candidates are trying their luck from 70 constituencies in the state where over 63 lakh electorates are expected to exercise their franchise on Monday.
Electioneering picked up towards the fag end as bad weather hampered the movement of national leaders during the early phase of campaign. BJP President Nitin Gadkari and some other leaders’ visits were also cancelled due to the inclement weather.
During the electioneering, Congress had attacked BJP on changing chief ministers frequently to cover up its alleged scams and asked the people to vote on development plank.
Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi tried to puncture the campaign of BJP “Khanduri (incumbent chief minister B C Khanduri) hai zaroori” by stating why he was removed in 2009 if he was so important.
Ruling BJP highlighted scams relating to 2G spectrum allocation, Commonwealth Games and Adarsha Housing Society in a bid to nail down Congress and asked the people to vote for the party for showing its commitment to weeding out corruption by bringing a strong Lokayukta bill.
The star campaigners from BJP and Congress also crisscrossed the hill state during the fortnight-long electioneering.
Chief Minister B C Khanduri addressed nearly two dozen rallies across the state during the past four to five days.
During his meetings, Khanduri had raked up emotive issues including the Muzaffarnagar massacre during Mulayam Singh Yadav government in 1994. “You all know who were the perpetrators of the Muzaffarnagar incident? You also know that it was only BJP which formed the new state of Uttarakhand,” Khanduri had said.
With the Election Commission cracking down on use of money power, the cacophony of the electioneering was missing this time with candidates shunning big shows of strength.