Jaipur, Dec 5: A high decibel campaign for Friday's Assembly polls in 199 constituencies in Rajasthan, that in its final lap turned to be a pitched war of words between the leadership of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the rival Indian National Congress, drew to a close at 1700 hrs.
During the past two days, there was a sudden spurt in stumping and election rallies with contender parties pressing in all available star campaigners.
BJP's chief campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook multi-phased whirlwind campaign, addressing six meetings in three days for the party's nominees.
Party president Amit Shah and many Union Ministers and Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states, including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, undertook extensive spells of canvassing.
The last day on Wednesday alone witnessed around 25 canvassing-centric programmes by the ruling dispensation, including 19 public meetings and two road shows.
What the stars foretell
The premier addressed two meetings in Pali and Dausa districts on Wednesday, Mr Shah held a road show in Ajmer while Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who had held the maximum number of meetings, concluded her extensive campaigning with a road show in Baran.
For the challenger Congress, party chief Rahul Gandhi led the campaign, addressing a large number of meetings and interactive meets over a period of almost two months.
Other main campaigners for the party were AICC General Secretary and former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and party state president Sachin Pilot. Ahmed Patel, Jyotiraditya Scindia, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupendra Hooda and Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu also chipped in canvassing.
Mr Gandhi addressed six meetings and one interactive programme in the state between Saturday and Tuesday. However, on the final day today, the charge of the task was held by Gehlot, Pilot, Patel and another party general secretary Avinash Pandey.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and Aam Aadmi Party supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also addressed meetings for their respective parties. Janata Dal (Secular)'s former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda also came to attend a convention of the fledgling Third Front.
The campaigning, that was intended to be positive and development centric by both the main contenders for power, gradually turned into a cross fire of potshots and barbs and by the final lap it reduced into a bitter war of words between PM Modi and Congress chief Gandhi.
Bilateral barbs over the subject of Hinduism and then duel over issue of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' caused much rancor in the form of verbal clash between the top rivals before the curtains fell on the campaign.
BJP made an issue out of the five-decade-long 'misrule' under Congress regimes 'headed by four generations of the Nehru-Gandhi family.' The Congress raised 'failures' of ruling dispensation and promise 'breaking' by PM Modi and promised the voters to waive off farm loans and open avenues of employment to jobless youth.
'Rafael scam', fleeing of bank loan defaulters and crony capitalism also had echoes at opposition meetings that were countered by the ruling dispensation which raised VVIP chopper deal, arrest of British middleman Cristian Michel and the Associated Journals case.
The elections are being held on 199 of the 200 seats to the state legislature. Polling in Ramgarh-Alwar has been countermanded following the death of a candidate.
Around 4.76 crore voters can exercise their franchise in the ensuing elections. In the fray are 2,294 contestants and around 51,000 polling stations are being set up in 33 districts, an election office spokesman said.
December 11 is set for the declaration of the mandate in the former princely state, along with Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and tiny Mizoram. (UNI)