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High-pitched poll campaign in Delhi ends as city votes on Sunday

twitter-logoPTI | May 10, 2019 | Updated 19:45 IST

/R New Delhi, May 9 (PTI) The high-pitched poll campaign in the national capital that ended on Friday had all the elements of a political soap opera. It witnessed an attack on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, acrimonious exchanges between the AAP and the BJP over allegations of horse-trading, rivals jabbing at one another over alleged discrepancies in affidavits and even a candidate of the ruling party in Delhi breaking down in a press conference. As many as 164 candidates, including 18 women, are in the fray in for the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi which goes to polls on Sunday. It is expected to be three-cornered fight involving the BJP, AAP and the Congress in all the seats. Over 400 polling booths have been identified as critical, for which special security measures have been put in place. The campaign which got off to a slow start as alliance talks between the AAP and Congress lingered on till the last days of nomination, gained momentum over the last fortnight with senior leaders drawing huge crowds at mega rallies and road shows in the national capital. The campaign reached a crescendo in its last lap with Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding a massive rally at the iconic Ramlila Maidan here, Congress President Rahul Gandhi addressing two public meetings, while his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra taking out two road shows in the city. BSP supremo Mayawati, BJP president Amit Shah and his party's Chief Ministers Yogi Adityanath, Vijay Rupani, Pema Khandu, Sarbananda Sonowal, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari and Giriraj Singh canvassed for their party candidates. The campaign also saw cine stars -- Hema Malini, Sunny Deol, Prakash Raj, Swara Bhaskar -- garnering support for the candidates. From trying to strike a personal chord with the voters in parks at six in the morning to holding door-to-door campaigns till late night, the candidates literally sweated it out in the oppressive heat as mercury crossed the 40-degree Celsius mark. While the BJP's campaign revolved around the party's high-pitched nationalism narrative and the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress kept him in the cross hairs and sought to hard sell its minimum income guarantee scheme -- Nyay. The AAP, on the other hand, focussed on the demand for full statehood for Delhi. Candidates also tried to out-maneuver each other before the poll body. AAP candidates Atishi and Raghav Chadha sought rejection of nomination papers of their BJP rivals Gautam Gambhir and Ramesh Bidhuri, respectively. Poll officers were also hard-pressed as several Model Code of Conduct violations were reported. In a security breach, Chief Minister Kejriwal was slapped by a man during a road show in Moti Nagar. Allegations of horse trading flew thick and fast as two AAP MLAs -- Anil Bajpai and Devinder Sehrawat -- crossed over to the BJP. The campaigning also saw South Delhi BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri using a Hindi slur against Kejriwal. On the penultimate day, the AAP and the BJP sparred over a derogatory pamphlet that targeted Delhi's ruling party candidate Atishi. The AAP alleged her rival Gautam Gambhir was behind it, a charge the former cricketer vehemently denied. Campaigning stops 48 hours before the beginning of voting hours. Known as the silence period, it is aimed at giving the electorate a chance to think about whom to vote for. PTI GVS PR NSD NSD

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