Uttarakhand Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Madan Kaushik greets during an election campaign for the upcoming State Assembly elections, at Bairaagi Camp, in Haridwar on Friday. (ANI Photo)
Dehradun: Campaigning came to an end on Saturday for the 70 Assembly seats of Uttarakhand going to polls on February 14 with a host of star campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, holding a series of rallies in support of their party candidates.
Electioneering, which drew to a close at 6 pm in accordance with the Election Commission's (EC) guidelines, was affected for the most part by COVID-19 restrictions, including a ban on physical rallies, forcing the political parties to resort to virtual rallies and scaled-down door-to-door campaigns.
However, the ban on physical rallies was lifted in a phased manner by the EC from February 1 onwards.
Polling is scheduled to be held to the 70 Assembly seats spread over 13 districts on Monday and the counting of votes will be taken up on March 10.
On the last day of campaigning, Modi held a rally in Rudrapur, Adityanath in Tehri and Kotdwar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Kapkot, Salt and Ramnagar, while Shah addressed rallies in Dhanolti, Sahaspur and Raipur, besides taking part in a door-to-door campaign in Haridwar and performing a puja at Har ki Pauri.
At the Rudrapur rally, the prime minister appealed to the people of the state not to let the Congress's "agenda of appeasement" succeed in the election, describing it as an opportunity for them to wipe out the opposition party that has already been uprooted from many states.
Priyanka Gandhi, at her rallies in Khatima and Haldwani, raised the issues of inflation, unemployment and the plight of farmers. She alleged that the three agriculture laws that led to a year-long farmers' protest were meant to bring more prosperity to Modi's billionaire industrialist friends at the cost of the farmers.
The Congress leader also accused the BJP government in Uttarakhand of giving three chief ministers in five years and doing nothing for the people of the state.
"They have no experience of running governments, so they changed chief ministers in quick succession," she said.
Priyanka Gandhi also reminded the voters of the salient features of the Congress manifesto, which promises to give employment to four lakh people by filling up the vacancies in the government and raising a tourist police force, not letting the price of an LPG cylinder exceed Rs 500, reserving 40 per cent of the jobs in the police force for women and free travel for women in roadways buses.
Accusing the political rivals of the Congress of raising meaningless issues to stoke passions, she urged people not to vote by shutting their eyes.
"They are running away from the real issues because they have actually done nothing for you," the Congress leader said.
Though the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has thrown all its might into these polls to make the contest triangular, the Congress and the BJP, which have been in power alternately in the state since its creation in 2000, are locked in a straight contest in most of the seats.