Campaigning for final phase of Lok Sabha polls ends

The high-pitched campaigning for the seventh and final phase of Lok Sabha elections in 57 seats in seven states and the Union territory of Chandigarh on June 1 ended Thursday evening.
West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee during a campaign road show for the last phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Kolkata, Thursday, May 30, 2024.
West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee during a campaign road show for the last phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Kolkata, Thursday, May 30, 2024.

Varanasi/Chandigarh | The high-pitched campaigning for the seventh and final phase of Lok Sabha elections in 57 seats in seven states and the Union territory of Chandigarh on June 1 ended Thursday evening.

Polling is scheduled in all 13 seats of Punjab and four of Himachal Pradesh, 13 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, nine in West Bengal, eight in Bihar, six in Odisha and three seats in Jharkhand besides Chandigarh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a third consecutive term from Varanasi.

Voting is already over in 486 seats in 28 states and Union territories. The turnout in the first six phases was 66.14 per cent, 66.71, 65.68, 69.16, 62.2 and 63.36 per cent respectively. Counting of votes will be taken up on June 4.

The campaigning saw BJP leaders led by Modi accusing the Congress and the INDIA alliance of being corrupt, anti-Hindu and engaging in loot, appeasement and dynastic politics.

The Opposition parties have been claiming that the BJP is anti-farmer, anti-youth and will change and scrap the Constitution if they win the elections.

At a rally in Odisha, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge also claimed that BJP leaders were trying to project Modi as the "eleventh avatar" of Lord Vishnu but the people of the country will not accept.

On Thursday, former prime minister Manmohan Singh accused Modi of lowering the dignity of public discourse and the gravity of the office of the prime minister by giving "hateful speeches" during the poll campaign.

In an appeal to voters of Punjab, Singh asserted that only the Congress can ensure growth-oriented progressive future where democracy and Constitution will be safeguarded. He also hit out at the BJP government for imposing the "ill-conceived" Agnipath scheme on the armed forces.

On Thursday evening, Modi headed to Kanyakumari where he will meditate till June 1 at the site associated with Swami Vivekananda. Modi had 206 public outreach programmes, including rallies and roadshows, since the Election Commission announced the Lok Sabha election schedule on March 16.

In Punjab, where the ruling AAP and its INDIA bloc partner Congress are fighting separately in a multi-cornered contest, the high-decibel campaign saw the participation of senior BJP leaders from Modi to Union ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Nirmala Sitharaman to BJP chief J P Nadda and chief ministers of BJP-ruled states.

For the Congress, Kharge and party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra led the campaign. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, out on interim bail in the excise policy case, also led an aggressive campaign for his party candidates along with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.

On the final day, Modi while addressing a rally at Hoshiarpur in Punjab, attacked the Congress for "ranting" about the Constitution when it was the one that "strangled" it during the Emergency and not care about it when Sikhs were killed in the 1984 riots.

At the rally in favour of his party's Hoshiarpur candidate Anita Som Parkash and Anandpur Sahib nominee Subhash Sharma here, the prime minister also touched upon the issues of reservation, corruption and the Ram Temple.

Hitting out at the opposition for questioning the Agnipath scheme, he accused the INDIA bloc of making the Army a "weapon of politics" and said there cannot be a "bigger sin than this".

In Uttar Pradesh, while the BJP claimed that the INDIA bloc will bring in Muslim reservation and put a 'Babri lock' in the Ayodhya temple in their speeches, the Opposition urged the people vote to save the Constitution.

In West Bengal, Modi took out a rally in Kolkata on Tuesday in support of candidate for Kolkata Uttar seat Tapas Roy. TMC supremo and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also held rallies for party candidates almost in each of the nine Lok Sabha constituencies.

On Thursday, Banerjee walked a rally of 12 km from the southern part of the city's Jadavpur area to Gopalnagar. Party leader Abhishek Banerjee also participated in two rallies on the final day of campaigning.

The BJP while campaigning alleged the Mamata government was involved in many scams related to coal and cattle smuggling, and irregularities in school recruitment among other issues. It also alleged how the state government was not implementing the welfare schemes of the Centre and depriving the common people of their benefits.

The TMC, however, kept on reiterating that the Centre was not releasing funds to the state.

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