Uttar Pradesh elections: How parties strived for attention as campaigning ended

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The 'do or die' campaign for the seventh and final phase of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, covering 40 assembly seats in seven districts, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency, came to a close on Monday. The polling in these seats will be held on March 8.

After addressing two massive roadshows and addressing two public meetings in the heart of Varanasi, Modi offered milk, Ganga jal, flowers, chandan and janeyu and performed aarti at the Lord Kashi Vishwanath. He later repeated it at Kaal Bhairav temple, which is considered to be a very holy place in the temple town.

Akhilesh Yaadav

[How PM Modi won political kushti against Akhilesh-Rahul in Varanasi]

Once again, Modi proved how no one could match his oratory skills and charisma to pull crowds. Even several of his former critics in the media have predicted a massive win for the BJP in the northern state because of the resurgence of 'Modi wave'. For him, the election to the 403-seat state assembly is really important.

The prime minister's road show in the city saw thousands lining up the route, chanting pro-Modi slogans and showering marigold petals on his entourage. In comparison, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh looked 'tired' and 'helpless', as he stepped out of his father's shadow and joined hands with the Congress. Akhilesh's political 'buddy' and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was found repeating the same charges against Modi in the temple town.

On the other hand, BSP supremo Mayawati termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's expectation that the BJP would get 'bonus' votes as hawa-hawai and claimed that people have made up their mind to vote for her party.

She also took a swipe at Akhilesh for his continued attack on the elephant statues set up by her government, saying he was indulging in 'childish talk'. She sought votes for jailed gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, arguing that his victory will erase his bahubali (muscleman) image. "I urge you to vote in large numbers, thereby ensuring a comprehensive victory for Mukhtar Ansari...once Mukhtar wins the assembly polls, his baahubali (muscleman) image will gradually diminish," she said.

Mukhtar, who faces 40 criminal cases, including those of murder and kidnapping, recently joined BSP after the merger of his Qaumi Ekta Dal with the ruling SP failed to take place due to strong objections from Akhilesh.

Polling for the final 40 seats will be held on March 7 in Ghazipur, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Bhadohi, Sonbhadra, Jaunpur and Chandauli. The SP will be fighting 31 seats, the BJP 32, and the BSP will be contesting for all 40

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