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High-voltage Punjab assembly poll campaign ends

Thursday, Feb 2, 2017,18:08 IST By anju A A A

Chandigarh | The high-voltage campaign for the February 4 assembly elections in Punjab came to an end this evening following hectic campaigning by various political parties.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday wrapped up his campaign during which he kept up the offensive against ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP combine and other rivals who gave back in equal measure.

The SAD-BJP combine is up against Congress and Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party which is fighting state polls for the first time.

The execution will witness key contests featuring several political stalwarts like Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Deputy CM and SAD chief Sukhbir Badal, state Congress chief and former CM Amarinder Singh, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu who left BJP for the Congress, and AAP leader Bhagwant Mann.

Key campaigners since the announcement of elections to the 117-member Punjab Assembly on February 4, included Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Others included Delhi chief minister Kejriwal, BSP chief Mayawati, union home minister Rajnath Singh and a number of central ministers and senior leaders of various parties including Congress, SAD-BJP alliance and BSP.

The key issues during the campaigning included drugs, river water issue including SYL canal, cancer in parts of the state, law and order, sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, farm debt, farmer suicides, and development.

The thrust of canvassing at the fag end of electioneering was in the Malwa region of Punjab comprising 69 assembly seats.

The dust settled at 5 pm when the loudspeakers went silent as parties asked their cadre to get on with the job of door-to-door campaign for persuading the voters for voting which will commence at 7 am on Saturday.

Modi unleashed a poll blitzkrieg addressing two rallies – Jalandhar and Kotkapura – in the state where he sought votes for SAD-BJP on development plank and stable government in the border state where Pakistan is trying to disturb the peace.

Modi attacked Congress accusing it of forging an alliance with Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh and Communist Party in West Bengal for “lust for power”. He also described Congress as a “boat which had already sunk”.

On the other hand, Rahul took the campaign to pocket boroughs of the ruling Badals, including Lambi, Majitha, and Jalalabad, taking on the opposition over dynastic politics and corruption.

Rahul also declared Punjab Congress chief Amarinder as the party’s chief ministerial candidate.

He said Punjab, a front ranking state, had fallen behind as the ruling Akalis had allegedly plundered it to serve themselves, even as he raked up the drugs issue promising tough laws to tackle the scourge if the party comes to power in the state.

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