Curtains on Thursday came down on the high-decibel campaign in one of the most-fiercely contested Assembly elections in Delhi where BJP has staked its all on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image against a resurgent Aam Aadmi Party in the February 7 polls.
Roadshows by AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal in the prestigious New Delhi constituency and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in Sultanpur Majra capped a day of nearly 100 rallies by leaders of various parties including BJP president Amit Shah as campaign ended at 6 PM.
After the end of the campaign marked by bitter political attacks and allegations and counter allegations, workers of the major parties fanned out on a door-to-door canvassing in 70 constituencies.
The BJP, which is out of power in Delhi for the last 16 years, made a gamble by bringing in former Team Anna member Kiran Bedi as its Chief Ministerial candidate which is said to have triggered discontent among the party leaders and rank and file.
The BJP strategy has been countered by Kejriwal-led AAP which has put up a spirited campaign in a bid to stop the Modi juggernaut that has been on a roll ever since the Lok Sabha election victory in May last year.
BJP leaders Shah and Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu have already said that the Delhi election is not a referendum on the Modi government’s performance, a statement seen by critics as an effort to shield the Prime Minister from any criticism.
The Congress which had ruled Delhi for 15 years till December, 2013 has been projected way behind AAP and BJP in pre-poll surveys. Some opinion polls have given AAP a clear majority while a few have predicted BJP’s win.
After both internal and media surveys projected a not-so-happy picture, the BJP deployed all its top guns including Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Uma Bharti and M Venkaiah Naidu in the campaign along with 120 MPs and leaders from states to woo the people from various regions.
The BJP campaign got a boost with the Prime Minister addressing five rallies in which he mainly targeted AAP while appealing the people to give him an opportunity to help Delhi reach new heights in development.
The AAP shifted track and concentrated on door-to-door approach and corner meetings. Towards the end, the party had to confront a dissident campaign when some of its erstwhile members came out with allegations of dubious fundings against it over receipt of four cheques of Rs 50 lakh each in April last year.
2013 election threw a hung assembly with BJP winning 32 seats, AAP 28 seats, Congress 8 seats while Others won 2 seats. An AAP-Congress post poll alliance was short lived as Kejriwal resigned as Chief Minister after 49 days.