Campaigning is now officially over for the 8th phase of General Elections 2014, slated to be held on 7th May. The last day checked many boxes with Ram Mandir issue indirectly getting a mention after a period of relative dormancy. But the day will be remembered for Narendra Modi virtually trying to ambush the Gandhi fortress of Amethi which was countered by a spectacular rebuttal from Priyanka Gandhi.
Narendra Modi on Monday travelled through Purvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh to canvass support for his candidates. The opinion polls have suggested fantastic gains for the saffron unit in this region. But some ground reports have suggested that the situation is not that rosy for BJP with minorities resorting to tactical voting.
In this backdrop Modi gave speech in Faizabad where the stage had pictures of Lord Ram and a temple. The imagery was vivid, the message unmistakable. Modi addressing the crowd just 6 km away from Ayodhya did the delicate balancing act by not mentioning Ram Temple but pledging to build Ram Rajya ( good governance) after coming to power.
Immediately Congress and other opponents cried hoarse, as according to guidelines of Election Commission, religious symbols can’t be displayed in political rallies. They promptly lodged a complaint with Election Commission which has now sought a report from the local administration. Congress leader Kapil Sibal said that Modi after being exposed on the issues of development has been forced to resort to religious campaigns. Reacting to the incident, Arun Jaitley refused to give much importance merely terming it an “error of judgement” of the local unit.
Jailtley today led a delegation of BJP leaders to Election Commission to complain about malpractices in voting in Bengal and parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. UP CM Akhilesh Yadav claimed that BJP has realised that they will not do well and hence are looking for excuses.
However on Monday several political parties complained against BJP to the Commission. SP and BSP both urged EC to take action against Amit Shah for saying Azamgarh is a base of terrorists. TMC meanwhile complained against Narendra Modi to the EC. Party chief Mamata Banerjee said that Modi should be arrested and dragged by a rope!!
But today all eyes were on Modi’s rally at Amethi. In his 53 minutes long speech, Gujarat CM was at his aggressive best. In every jibe, he targeted the Gandhi legacy and sought to crumble its edifice. Even late Rajiv Gandhi was not spared by the P.M aspirant. Virtually making it a referendum, Modi said that he has chosen Smriti Irani and it is time for Amethi to approve her.
Gujarat C.M replied to Priyanka Gandhi’s “who” snub to the BJP candidate, saying Smriti Irani is like her younger sister. Modi tried to project himself as an antithesis to everything Gandhi family stands for. He deemed the Gandhis arrogant and later proclaimed, “Aache din ane wala hain, gareebo ka bacha aane wala hain” (Good days are coming; children of the poor will rule the country). He also alluded to his backward status and referred that Sitaram Kesri (another backward leader) was shabbily treated by Congress. In a rousing finale he said that his kettle is ready to again make tea if he loses the election!!
If Modi resorted to his humble roots and clean image to seek change in Amethi, Priyanka Gandhi preferred to fall back on her trusted calling card of family legacy. She alleged that her martyr father was insulted on Amethi and hoped that each and every booth of the constituency will give a befitting reply to these barbs. She urged Congress workers in Amethi to be more proactive. Finally she expressed belief that, “Amethi ki janta iss harkat ko kabhi maf nahi karegi” (People of Amethi will not forgive such speech).
Meanwhile Sonia Gandhi advised Modi to read the history books again to know the contribution of Congress post-Independence. All in all it was a stunning finale to the high voltage campaign in Amethi. Now it is to be seen if Rahul Gandhi returns the favour and goes to Varanasi for campaigning against Narendra Modi.
Polling today formally ended for the 64 constituencies which will vote on Wednesday. A part of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and entire states of Himachal and Uttarakhand goes to poll in this phase. Voting will also take place in Ladakh and Barramullah in Kashmir Valley. It is a crucial phase for BJP as it is tipped to win majority of the seats by pundit.
Facing stiff opposition from allies, UPA has decided to drop the plan of naming a judge to probe the Snoopgate incident. Sources have indicated that they have decided to leave this matter for next government. Salman Khurshid today hoped that Congress will again come back to power, although he accepted that contours of alliance may change.
But the stink of scam which has plagued UPA government over the last few years just refuses to die down. Now in Coalgate, Enforcement Directorate (E.D) has slapped money laundering charges against former Minister of State in the Coal Ministry Dasari Narayana Rao and Congress MP Naveen Jindal.
The agency, has framed the charges after it found multi-layered transactions between the firms owned by Jindal to Rao’s firms based in Hyderabad. It is suspected that “illegal money” was routed for alleged favours given for the allocation of coal firms to Jindal by Rao. The probe is currently being monitored by Supreme Court.
In another embarrassment, Supreme Court today said that the Election Commission has the jurisdiction and can enquire into complaint on paid news against a political leader if the expenditure incurred on it is not disclosed. It rejected the plea of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. The ex C.M though put up a brave face saying that he will put forward his side of the story regarding paid news to the poll panel. Even very recently several Maharashtra politicians including Milind Deora were indicted by E.C for resorting to paid news without proper disclosure.
In what could be a tectonic shift in Left politics, CPI has indicated that it is open to take support from TMC led by Mamata Banerjee to keep Narendra Modi out of power. Senior leader A.B Bardhan said that Didi who is considered as sworn enemy by the Left can well be a part of the alternative alliance. He also conceded that their seats may go down in this election. One has to see what comrades from CPIM think about this radical proposition!!
BJP today suspended its candidate from Niligiri, S. Gurumurthy for failing to correctly submit his nomination form due to which his candidature got suspended. Nilgiri is A Raja’s constituency and fingers were raised at possible backhand deal with BJP.
Former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha today attacked current Finance Minister Chidambaram. He said that Congress Minister has to be reborn again to match his records. Earlier Chidambaram had dubbed Yashwant the “worst F.M”. Senior BJP MP said that the economy is in worst state and assured that simplified tax structure, important tax reforms like DTC and GST will soon be passed once NDA assumes power.
These were all the major news from today. We will be back with all the latest election news soon…
Amethi Election Result
Azamgarh Election Result
Hyderabad Election Results
West Bengal Election Results
Uttar Pradesh Election Result
Bihar Election Results
Gujarat Election Result
Himachal Pradesh Election Result
Uttarakhand Poll Results
Election Result 2014