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India


After controversies galore, campaign drums fall silent for India’s Lok Sabha polls

After controversies galore, campaign drums fall silent for India’s Lok Sabha polls

New Delhi, May 30 (UNI) The din and bustle of colourful but often controversial campaigning spanning a gamut of issues from Mangalsutra to Mahatma Gandhi to Muslim appeasement and communal polarisation ended for India’s staggered Lok Sabha election on Thursday, ahead of the seventh and final phase of voting on June 1.
Fifty-seven constituencies from seven states and one Union Territory would go to the hustings in this round, sealing the electoral luck of 908 candidates including Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Varanasi), Kangana Ranaut (Mandi), Anurag Thakur (Hamirpur), actor Ravi Kishan (Gorakhpur) and Abhishek Banerjee (Diamond Harbour). The Saturday polls will end the staggered multi-phase elections for the 543-seat lower house of Parliament, which started on April 19.
As in earlier phases, PM Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah led the campaigning for the Centre’s ruling NDA spearhead BJP, alongside the party's National President J P Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The chief canvassers for the opposition Congress, which leads the INDIA bloc, were its former and current presidents Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge, besides party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Among other leaders of the INDI alliance, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav and Aam Aadmi Party National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal also tried to woo the voters in their respective zones of influence despite the sizzling heatwave across parts of North India.
As the high-decibel campaigning reaches its end, it leaves a trail of controversies sparked by the leading political figures through their utterances in public rallies and media interviews.
PM Modi, who dominated the headlines over the past two months as he hopped from state to state and region to region on a gruelling campaign blitz, accused the Congress of indulging in appeasement and vote bank politics and even “opposing” the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya as also the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Speaking at a rally in Rajasthan, he said his government would never let anyone snatch away the reservations of Dalits, OBCs, and backward classes and give them to the Muslims only.
Going further, he claimed that if voted to power, the Congress would re-distribute the country’s wealth among “infiltrators” and “those who have more children,” in an apparent reference to the Muslim community.

In his rallies, Modi also claimed the Congress: would "not even leave your 'mangalsutra (necklace worn by married Hindu women)'. He also claimed that the Congress manifesto for the election has declared that the party “will calculate the gold with mothers and sisters, get information about it, and then distribute that property”.
Flaying Modi for giving “hate speeches”, the Congress moved the Election Commission, alleging that the BJP was trying to create a “communal polarisation”, as its initial campaign theme of “Vikshit Bharat” had failed to sway the electorate.
At the other end, Rahul Gandhi, speaking at a rally in Kerala, claimed the BJP was trying to sow the seeds of discrimination by making Malayalam and Tamil inferior to Hindi and attempting to create a North-south divide in the country.
The BJP also moved the EC against Gandhi’s statement, calling it “divisive”.

The opposition also constantly harped on its allegation that the BJP, which had coined the slogan of “Abki baar, charso ke paar”, (meadnin this time, the NDA would win over 400 seats) was plotting to change the constitution and declare India as a Hindu Rashtra if it got a brute majority.
The BJP, including PM Modi, issued vehement denials, and BJP ally Ramdas Athawale moved the EC against Rahul Gandhi on the issue.
PM Modi’s series of interviews to television channels where he claimed that while earlier he believed that his birth was a biological one, after his mother’s death he was convinced that God had sent him on a mission, and made him “nothing but an instrument”, also became an issue, with Rahul Gandhi in his rallies mocking the PM.
Amidst all this, while giving television byters, BJP leader Sambit Patra claimed "Jagannath is Modi's bhakt," implying the Hindu lord was a divine devotee of PM Modi. However, he later termed it as a “slip of the tongue” and announced a three-day fast as penance.
Ahead of the seventh phase of polls, PM Modi in another television interview, said no one knew of Mahatma Gandhi outside India before a movie on his life hit the screen worldwide. Modi was referring to the 1982 movie Gandhi directed by Richard Attenborough and alleging that the earlier Congress governments did not do enough to spread Gandhi's thoughts internationally.
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge responded by asking Modi to read Gandhi’s autobiography – The Story of My Experiments with Truth – and advised him to “become Gandhian” after the general election result on June 4.

The constituencies going to the hustings on Saturday include the 13 LS seats of Punjab and four of Himachal Pradesh, where voting is being done in one go.
Voting will also be conducted in Uttar Pradesh (13 seats), West Bengal (9), Bihar (8), Odisha (6), Jharkhand (3) and in the Union Territory of Chandigarh (1).
The average number of contesting candidates in a PC for 7th Phase is 16.
The votes for all the phases would be counted on June 4.
UNI SSP CS2058

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