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Lok Sabha Elections: Campaigning for final phase of elections comes to an end

Sunday, 11 May 2014 - 6:40am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

As the clock struck 6 pm on Saturday, the 10-week-long campaigning for the nine phase 2014 Lok Sabha elections came to an end which saw no-holds barred attack from all sides, mud-slinging and personal attacks like never before, breaking of unwritten political courtesies and billions of rupees 'investment' by parties to push their case.

But what made the general elections spicier rather than a boring battle between BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi and beleaguered Congress led by Rahul Gandhi was probably the entry of political newbie the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) who is fighting on more seats than BJP to push its case of becoming a third national political alternative.

The fight was started last year itself by Narendra Modi who hit the ring even before others entered arena and by May 10 addressed nearly 480 rallies across India hip-hopping on helicopters and flights to every corner of the country donning all kinds of headgears except one.

Not just that, billions were spent on billboards, television and radio advertisements by professionals who carefully crafted the 'Modi mania' reaching to voters everywhere.

Congress meanwhile, it seems, woke quite late from its slumber. After initially resigning to the feeling of sitting in opposition facing a 10-year anti-incumbency, Congress did try putting up a fight with the Gandhi family – Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi – launching strong counter attacks including personal ones. It, however, saw a near blink and miss performance from most of the other senior Congress leaders.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh addressed only a handful of rallies was probably a foregone conclusion and probably not many even in his party bothered as the mantle was in hands of Rahul Gandhi.

Sensing the mood and trying every trick in bag, regional parties led by strong leaders like Trinamool's Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party's Mulayam Singh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati among others also chipped in and called Modi all kind of names.

But that all seems to part of political canvassing as the man with 56-inch chest himself claimed a few days ago that he is ready for post poll alliances even with such satraps.

The campaign also witnessed breaking of old school political traditions of India where entering into each other's citadels and raking personal issues was considered rude.

Starting with Congress raking up issue of Modi owning up to his marriage to his not taking care of mother and his relations with industrialist Gautam Adani, BJP did its part by attacking Gandhi family over Priyanka Gandhi's husband Robert Vadra's business model, fielding TV bahu-tuned-politician Smriti Irani from Amethi against Rahul Gandhi and attacking Digvijay Singh on his affair with a TV journalist.

Besides, the campaigning saw the entry of political underdog AAP who is trying to become a national political alternative while riding on success in Delhi elections where they won 28 seats.

AAP, which is fighting on more seats, 434, across India which are seven more than BJP, has repeatedly claimed of changing the political discourse which in the end may or may not be true. But what is certainly a fact was that AAP fought on funds of less than Rs 50 core compared to thousands of crores spent by the established political parties.

But what was certainly a pleasant change was an increased voter turnout compared to last several elections. Now, whether the constant bickering, yearning for change, awareness campaigns by election commission brought them out remains an issue of debate.

It is now the D-day, May 16, which will decide the fate of 8230 candidates for 543 Lok Sabha seats ranging who from all those covered thousands of miles to those who only sat in their cars.

Election in numbers
8,230 Total number of candidates country-wide
543 Total number of Lok Sabha seats
450+ Number of rallies addressed by Narendra Modi
434 Number of seats AAP is contesting, which is 7 more than BJP


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