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Curtains drawn on all campaigning for UP poll

Last updated on: March 1, 2012 20:13 IST

Curtains drawn on all campaigning for UP poll

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Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow

Campaigning for the Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections came to a close on Thursday evening, with top leaders of different political outfits unleashing their horses in the 10 districts running along the Uttarakhand and Nepal border, where the seventh and final round of polling will take place on Saturday. Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow.

No sooner than the sixth phase of the poll concluded on February 28, the entire focus of all the key political players -- Samajwadi Party, the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress-Rashtriya Lok Dal combine -- shifted to the 60 hot seats spread across the districts of Bijnore, Moradabad, Barielly, Budaun, Pilibhit, Rampur, Lakhimpur-Kheri, Bheem Nagar, J P Bagar and Budaun.

Significantly, two prominent leaders, who kept away from the last day of the campaign were Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi and  UP Chief Minister and BSP supremo Mayawati, who chose to confine herself to Lucknow, where she was stated to be giving final touches to  her post-poll strategies.

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Image: General Secretary Rahul Gandhi


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"She completed her campaign on Wednesday," said an aide. "Madam stuck to her schedule of addressing 63 public rallies between February 1 and 28."

Rahul too had chosen to conclude his campaign on Wednesday when he bid farewell to UP after running a 45-day long hectic campaign across UP.

However, be it Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, his son Akhilesh Yadav, BJP bigwigs Nitin Gadkari, Raj Nath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Uma Bharti and others, every one converged in this belt, where the prestige of several top politicians was at stake.

Interestingly, if  Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal flew down from Punjab to woo the Sikhs in the Sikh-dominant Terai belt in Pilibhit and Lakhimpur-Kheri, what came as a big surprise was the plunge by Union finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee into the campaign largely to win over the Bengali population in certain areas.

Significantly, he went to the extent of promising Indian citizenship to the Bangladesh refugees localised in settlements in parts of Pilibhit.

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Image: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal


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Curtains drawn on all campaigning for UP poll

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Rahul and his closest confidante Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh left no stone unturned to bait the large Muslim population, particularly in pockets of Barielly, Rampur, Moradabad, Budaun and Bijnore, where the minority community was seen as a game changer.

And evidently, it was this craving for the Muslim vote that  repeatedly brought the Congress in direct confrontation with the SP, that was as much dependent on it for turning the party's fortunes in UP.

But playing spoilsport was ousted SP leader --  filmstar-turned-politician Jaya Prada who was the second time SP member of Parliament from Rampur. With her close friend philosopher and guide Amar Singh in tow, Jaya Prada was desperately trying to humble SP's most prominent Muslim face Azam Khan , who was contesting the local Rampur seat.

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Image: Jaya Prada


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Curtains drawn on all campaigning for UP poll

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Even ousted BJP Leader Kalyan Singh was busy moving heaven and earth to establish his own raising – Rashtriya Kranti Party -- in the region, where he was banking solely on the Lodh caste over which he claims his monopoly. BJP leader Uma Bharti, who also belongs to the same caste, was however posing a big challenge to Singh.

According to reports, unprecedented number of helicopters and private planes were busy criss-crossing each other as major political leaders went about hopping from one place to the other across the 10 districts.

This phase will determine the political fate of 962 candidates, including 100 women who were in the fray.  As many as 1.82 crore voters are expected to cast their vote across 18957 polling stations where 27,589 electronic voting machines were being installed for the last round of the seven phased UP election.


Image: BJP leader Uma Bharti


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