Final Phase of Lok Sabha Polls: Campaigning Ends Amid Heated Rhetoric

Bhubaneswar: The high-octane campaigning for the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections in 57 seats across seven states and the Union territory of Chandigarh concluded on Thursday evening. The polling, scheduled for June 1, encompasses constituencies in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chandigarh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a third consecutive term from Varanasi, one of the key battlegrounds in this phase. The campaigning, marked by spirited rhetoric, saw BJP leaders led by PM Modi accusing the Congress and the INDIA alliance of corruption, anti-Hindu sentiments, and dynastic politics. Conversely, opposition parties portrayed the BJP as anti-farmer and anti-youth, warning against potential changes to the Constitution if the BJP secures victory.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh criticised PM Modi for what he deemed “hateful speeches,” asserting that such discourse diminishes the dignity of the prime minister’s office. Singh, appealing to voters in Punjab, emphasised the Congress’s commitment to a progressive future safeguarding democracy and the Constitution. He also criticised the BJP government’s Agnipath scheme, which he deemed ill-conceived.

PM Modi’s campaign blitz included 206 public outreach programs since the election schedule announcement in March. In Punjab, where the AAP and Congress are contesting separately, senior BJP leaders, including PM Modi, Amit Shah, and Rajnath Singh, were actively involved in campaigning.

In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP warned of Muslim reservation and raised concerns about the Ayodhya temple, while the opposition emphasized saving the Constitution. In West Bengal, both PM Modi and Mamata Banerjee held rallies for their respective candidates, with the BJP alleging state government involvement in various scandals and accusing it of withholding central funds.

With polling concluded in 486 seats across 28 states and Union territories, the turnout in previous phases averaged around 65%. Counting of votes is scheduled for June 4.

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