Priyanka surpasses Yogi in holding poll rallies in UP

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Priyanka Gandhi | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Lucknow: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addressed 209 rallies and roadshows, the maximum by any top leader during the Uttar Pradesh election campaign, followed closely by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who spoke at 203 poll events.

Information collected from party offices revealed that Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav held 131 rallies for the candidates of his party and allies.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah also addressed several rallies and took part in roadshows, boosting the party's campaign.

Modi addressed 28 of them during the seven-phase elections, the campaign for which lasted over 45 days.

The PM spent a night in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi and ended his campaign with a rally in Khajuri village of the district before the electioneering ended for the final phase on March 5.

Amit Shah, the master strategist of the 2017 BJP victory in UP, held 54 rallies and roadshows in favour of the BJP and NDA candidates across the state.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is also the Lok Sabha MP from Lucknow, held 43 rallies and roadshows.

BJP president J P Nadda held 41 poll events.

BSP supremo Mayawati, whose initial "absence" from the campaign triggered much speculation, addressed 18 rallies.

As Priyanka Gandhi led her party from the front in a bid to regain its lost ground, her efforts were supplemented only by a virtual rally by her mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

She addressed just one virtual rally for her party candidates fighting from assembly segments under her Lok Sabha constituency Rae Bareli.

She did not physically hit the ground for any of her party candidates anywhere in the state.

Former Congress president and Priyanka Gandhi's brother Rahul Gandhi too made only a guest appearance addressing barely two rallies -- one in Amethi and another in Varanasi.

Following its time-tested strategy of intensive and extensive electioneering, the BJP fielded a large number of its central and state leaders to drive home Prime Minister Modi's catchline "UP plus Yogi bahut hai upyogi" (Yogi is very useful for UP) among people in the state .

Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Shah and BJP president Nadda initially divided time among the five poll-bound states -- UP, Uttrakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur.

But after the voting was over in other states, they all concentrated on Uttar Pradesh to mobilize support for the saffron party and its allies -- Apna Dal (Sonelal) and Nishad Party.

Besides Adityanath, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, the party's OBC face in the state and Deputy CM Dinesh Sharma moved around the state to impress upon the people that continuation of the BJP government was needed for its further development.

Akhilesh Yadav, who ran the show for his party and the allies, virtually sought to match the efforts of the BJP star campaigners.

At the receiving end of PM Modi and other top leaders, Akhilesh Yadav sought to repulse their attacks with unfailing regularity.

RLD president Jayant Chaudhary accompanied him in the initial two stages of the polling in the constituencies falling in western Uttar Pradesh where it enjoys support among farmers and Jats.

As the elections moved towards Purvanchal, allies Om Prakash Rajbhar and others chipped in.

Ailing SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav too showed up for the SP at two places -- one in Karhal in support of his son Akhilesh and another in Malihani in Jaunpur to seek vote for Lucky Yadav, son of his close associate for a long time Parasnath Yadav.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee too addressed a rally in Varanasi in support of the SP candidate, tweaking her West Bengal battle cry "khela hobe (game is on)” to "khela hoga" (game will take place) in the Hindi heartland.

With the end of the voting, all eyes are now set on results on March 10 in UP along with that in Punjab, Uttrakhand, Goa and Manipur. PTI

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