Star wars come to end
The month-long star wars of the political kind finally ended as helicopters brought the battle weary campaigners home after canvassing for the seventh and final phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh came to a close on Thursday evening. Polling for the last phase is due on Saturday (March 3). Unlike the BJP and the Congress which had several star campaigners, including film stars, the BSP campaign was focused on chief minister Mayawati who held 59 well-attended public meetings for the seven-phase polls.
As if to prove a point, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav pulled out all stops to address 96 public meetings though he was ably supported by his son and state party chief Akhilesh who held 300 campaign meetings and road shows. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi spearheaded his party's show, as sister Priyanka confined herself to Amethi and Rae Bareli while mother and party chief Sonia Gandhi held six public meetings.
Rahul Gandhi, said Congress spokesman Hilal Naqvi, addressed joint meetings for more than one assembly constituency at 82 places and separate meetings in 95 constituencies. In addition, he addressed 14 public meetings and six worker-meets along with six road shows too. The BJP, which had the maximum star campaigners, organised nearly 1300 public meetings and road shows, with former UP chief minister Rajnath Singh doing the bulk of campaigning with nearly 300 public meetings. Sushma Swaraj held 42 public meetings in 14 days while party patriarch LK Advani held nearly 25 well-attended rallies.
"While party chief Nitin Gadkari gave a phenomenal amount of time to UP, addressing nearly 200 public meetings, his predecessor Rajnath Singh literally campaigned across the state, holding a whopping 300 meetings," senior BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told HT. He was followed by the party's fiery sanyasin Uma Bharti, who despite not keeping well, addressed nearly 175 public meetings. This was about 25 more than what Naqvi, the party's Muslim face from UP did, focusing mainly on the Muslim- dominated districts. In the final phase, he confined himself to his home district Rampur.
Rahul's Congress campaign was supported by senior leaders like Digvijaya Singh, state party chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, party's Moradabad MP Azharuddin with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee also coming to the state.
The BJP campaign was supported by chief ministers of the party-ruled states like BC Khanduri (Uttarakhand), Raman Singh (Chhatisgarh), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh). Senior leader Kalraj Mishra and state party chief Surya Pratap Shahi, despite contesting the polls, took out time to campaign for the party.