April 6 will witness voting in five states/UT making it the most hectic phase in this election season so far, amidst Covid-19 restrictions.
Tuesday will be the third phase of voting in West Bengal and Assam. Single-phase voting will take place in Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu. Here is a look at campaigning in states going to polls:
West Bengal: TMC vs BJP; Mamata vs Modi battle intensifies
The most talked-about poll this year is undoubtedly in West Bengal with continuous verbal wars between chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at election rallies.
The issue of regionalism versus nationalism has been in prime focus with Trinamool Congress (TMC) striving to prove that “Bangla nijer meyekei chaye” (Bengal wants her daughter) while calling the BJP as ‘Borgi’ (outsider).
In the third phase, elections will be held in parts of rural Howrah, the Sunderban region, the Diamond Harbour and Baruipur belts in the South 24 Parganas, and parts of the Hooghly district.
The BJP’s campaign was led by PM Modi who addressed several public meetings in these three districts. Besides, home minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Union minister Smriti Irani held a slew of rallies and roadshows in the last few days in these areas.
The Trinamool Congress’s charge was led by chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her nephew, who is also an MP, Abhishek Banerjee.
In his successive rallies, the prime minister attacked the TMC government over “appeasement politics”, while raking up the issue of ground-level corruption, including the alleged irregularities in Amphan relief.
West Bengal CM and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee address an election campaign rally at Baruipur in South 24 Parganas.
On the other side, the chief minister took on the leaders who left her party to join the BJP ahead of the elections, urging people to vote against the “traitors”. She also attacked the BJP-led government at the Centre over rising fuel prices and the state of the economy.
An artist makes sweet-idols of PM Narendra Modi, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and other leaders at a shop in Howrah. (PTI)
The Left-led alliance focussed more on street-corner meets, small gatherings and door-to-door visits in absence of a face to counter Modi and Banerjee at large rallies. However, ISF founder Abbas Siddiqui’s public meetings saw mega gatherings in places such as Canning that have a significant Muslim population.
Assam: Last phase of voting
The fate of 337 candidates, including Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor and state minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, will be sealed in EVMs in 40 constituencies on April 6, which will be the third and final phase of voting in the state.
An array of national leaders including PM Modi and Congress’s Rahul Gandhi campaigned for their respective alliance candidates.
The seats, spread across 12 districts including three in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR), witnessed last-minute canvassing by candidates, including 25 women, before the end of campaigning.
Modi, who had campaigned in all three phases, addressed two rallies at Kokrajhar and Tamulpur, both in BTR, and highlighted the signing of the Bodo Accord and development initiatives of the BJP.
PM Modi and Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal during an election campaign rally at Bihpuria in Lakhimpur district of Assam.
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi visited the Kamkhaya Temple and addressed rallies at Chaygaon and Barkhetri seats, while his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was also scheduled to campaign in three constituencies in Lower Assam but had to cancel the plan after coming in contact with a Covid-19 infected person.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi offers prayers during his visit to Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati.
‘Mahajoth’ or ‘Grand Alliance’ comprises Congress, AIUDF, Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF), CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML) Liberation, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM).
AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal, the BJP’s prime target in this election, carried out hectic campaigning for his party candidates along with those of his alliance partners.
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal was barred by the Election Commission from campaigning for 48 hours from April 2 for allegedly making threatening remarks against BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary.
Sonowal had appealed for a review and subsequently, the ban was reduced to 24 hours.
The BJP attacked Ajmal by accusing him of encouraging illegal immigration from Bangladesh, leading to “land and love Jihad”. The saffron party promised to tackle these issues by bringing in legislation.
AIUDF president Badruddin Ajmal addresses a party rally at Sarukhetri in Barpeta district.
The saffron party, besides speaking about development initiatives taken by the “double-engine government”, also attacked Congress for aligning with the AIUDF.
The Congress, on the other hand, focussed its campaign on the ‘five guarantees’ of not implementing CAA, providing government jobs to five lakh youths, 200 units of free power, raising daily wages of tea garden workers to Rs 365 and giving a monthly allowance of Rs 2,000 to homemakers.
Kerala: Massive roadshows mark campaign finale
Massive roadshows and long rallies, led by top national and state leaders on Sunday marked the finale of the weeks-long high-octane campaigning for the April 6 Assembly polls in Kerala.
Known as “Kottikalasham” in local parlance, the finale of the open poll campaigning used to be a jamboree in the southern state in which every political party would try to show off their strength by bringing a maximum number of supporters to add colour to the show.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday gave a further push to his ‘Nyuntam Aay Yojana’ (NYAY) to reach out to the voters, promising that every poor person in the State will get Rs 6,000 every month “without fail” if the UDF is voted to power.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi rides an auto-rickshaw at Kalpetta. The constituency is witnessing a fierce triangular fight between the LDF, UDF and the BJP.
On the other hand, BJP chief JP Nadda said that the party is coming as a force in Kerala because the “Left Democratic Front (LDF) and United Democratic Front (UDF) have delivered misgovernance. People have started supporting BJP so we will do good in Kerala too.”
Tamil Nadu: AIADMK-BJP clashes with DMK-Congress
The high-octane poll campaign for Tamil Nadu assembly elections being held in a single phase on April 6 came to an end at 7 pm on Sunday.
Polling across 234 assembly constituencies in 38 districts of Tamil Nadu will begin at 7 am on Tuesday. A total of 3,998 candidates are in the poll fray. In view of Covid-19, the number of polling stations has been increased to 88,937. The counting of votes will be done on May 2.
The state is witnessing a fierce battle between arch-rivals All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).
MK Stalin-led DMK, which is out of power since 2011 in the state, is in a head-to-head battle with ruling party AIADMK in nearly 130 constituencies.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami during an election campaign in Omalur assembly, in Salem district.
The AIADMK launched scathing attacks against the DMK for practising dynastic politics and promised development.
On the other side, Stalin has called the AIADMK government a slave to the BJP and alleged corruption during its tenure. Stalin said the AIDMK government has taken Tamil Nadu back 50 years.
In Tamil Nadu, the people have traditionally seen the DMK and the AIADMK hold power alternately since 1967.
However, AIADMK emerged victorious in the last two Assembly elections. This is the first Assembly elections being held without two veterans of Tamil Nadu politics, M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa.
DMK President MK Stalin during a roadshow in support of party youth wing leader and candidate from Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni constituency Udhayanidhi Stalin.
Ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is contesting the poll in a pre-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Paattali Makkal Katchi (PMK).
PMK and BJP are contesting in 23 and 20 constituencies respectively in the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly while the AIADMK has fielded its candidates for the rest of the seats.
Puducherry: Both NDA, Congress confident of victory
The Union territory is witnessing a tough battle essentially between National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Congress-Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) combine.
NDA in Puducherry is a rare case where the BJP is not the largest constituent of the alliance. The BJP is contesting on nine seats with the alliance led by the All India NR Congress (AINRC) contesting on 16 seats, and the AIADMK on five seats.
Puducherry former CM Narayanasamy during an election campaign rally.
The Congress, whose government in the Union territory fell in February before completing its five-year term under the chief minister V Narayansamy, has also ceded its ground to its allies.
Congress gave 13 seats to the DMK and one each to the Communist Party of India and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi. The party skipped fielding Narayanasamy and is contesting on only 14 out of its 15 seats.
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam party is also contesting from some seats in Puducherry.
During campaigning, while Rahul Gandhi held the reins of Congress in the UT, BJP’s camp witness high-profile rallies from an array of leader from PM Modi and Union minister Amit Shah to party president JP Nadda.
Kamal Haasan too campaigned for his party in the UT.
MNM President Kamal Haasan during an election campaign rally in Puducherry.
With the campaigning coming to end, both NDA and Congress expressed confidence they would form the government in Puducherry.
BJP, with firm confidence in the NR Congress, expects to win 25 out of 30 seats.
(With inputs from agencies)