The intense campaigning for the February 15 elections in 69 of the 70 Assembly seats in Uttarakhand drew to a close on Monday evening. With the death of Kuldip Kanwasi, a BSP candidate from Karnaprayag in a road accident on Sunday, polling to the seat has been postponed.
With the end of campaigning at 5 PM, political parties cannot hold any public meetings and rallies to garner support for themselves. The only way they can mobilise support is through direct public contact, the state election office said in Dehradun.
As many as 75,12,559 voters will decide the fate of 628 candidates in 69 Assembly seats. Poll notification was issued on January 20 and top leaders and star campaigners of both Congress and BJP, the two main parties in the fray, addressed a string of rallies, public meetings and roadshows to woo the electorate.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah held about half a dozen rallies, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley also addressed public meetings. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi held two public meetings in Rishikesh and Someshwar and a 75-km roadshow in Haridwar district which has the maximum 11 Assembly seats.
Chief Minister Harish Rawat too held several public meetings and roadshows on a daily basis to drum up support. However, party president Sonia Gandhi kept away from campaigning this time. Congress and BJP, which have been traditionally the main contenders, are locked in a straight contest in most of the seats but presence of about a dozen rebel candidates in the fray as independents may upset the calculations of the official nominees of their respective parties.
12 former Congress MLAs, who are contesting this time as BJP candidates, have made these elections interesting. Also, this time, Chief Minister Harish Rawat himself who despite being an MLA from Dharchula in the hills is contesting from two seats including Haridwar (rural) and Kichcha in the plains.
State election office at Dehradun said all preparations have been made for the February 15 elections with nearly 20,000 security personnel deployed to ensure peaceful polling on the day which has been declared a public holiday.