After hectic canvassing stretching for over a month-and-half and spread over seven phases, campaigning in the last and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections 2019 came to a close in Uttar Pradesh on Friday.
The final day of campaigning saw leaders of different political parties upping the ante before polling on Sunday.
Elections in the seventh phase of the Lok Sabha polls will be held in 13 constituencies in Purvanchal (eastern Uttar Pradesh), including the VVIP constituency of Varanasi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the fray.
Polling on Sunday will also be held in Gorakhpur, considered to be the political backyard of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The other constituencies going to the polls in the seventh phase are Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon, Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Mirzapur and Robertsganj (reserved).
The Prime Minister had won the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Varanasi by a record margin of 371,785 votes. He defeated Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi Party. In the 2019 polls, the Prime Minister is pitted against the SP-BSP-RLD alliance candidate Shalini Yadav and Ajay Rai of the Congress.
Several union ministers including railway minister Piyush Goyal, Information and Broadcasting minister Rajyavardhan Rathore and MoS External Affairs VK Singh have campaigned for Modi.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was in Varanasi on Wednesday campaigning for Narendra Modi. She flagged off a scooter rally.
Not to be outdone, BSP president Mayawati, SP president Akhilesh Yadav and RLD’s Ajit Singh held a joint rally in Varanasi on Thursday in support of ‘mahagathbandhan’ candidate Shalini Yadav.
On the last day of campaigning on Friday, Mayawati, Akhilesh and Ajit Singh addressed two joint rallies in Mirzapur and Chandauli in favour of ‘mahagathbandhan’ candidates Ram Charitra Nishad and Sanjay Chauhan, respectively.
The Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra held a road show for the party’s candidate Ajay Rai in Varanasi on Wednesday.
On the last day of campaigning, Priyanka held roadshows for the Congress candidates Lalitesh Pati Tripathi and RPN Singh in Mirzapur and Padrauna (Kushinagar), respectively.
A keen contest is in the offing in Gorakhpur where the BJP has fielded Bhojpuri film actor Ravi Kishen Shukla. He is in contest with Ram Bhual Nishad, the ‘mahagathbandhan’ candidate.
The forthcoming electoral contest in Gorakhpur is a prestigious issue for the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. Yogi Adityanath was a five-time MP from Gorakhpur, but the BJP had lost the seat to Samajwadi Party in the 2018 Lok Sabha byelection. The onus is largely on Yogi Adityanath, as well as Ravi Kishen, to regain the seat for the BJP.