By Neeraj Bajpai, New Delhi/Rai Bareli/Chennai, Apr 22 UNI | 3 months ago

A venomous campaign, packed with hate speeches, personal attacks and threats, creaked to a halt this evening in 117 Lok Sabha constituencies, spread over large swathes of 12 states and UT Puducherry.

An anguished Priyanka Gandhi dared the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate and his party to humiliate the Gandhi family as much they could.

She said the personal attacks on her husband Robert Vadra and her family would help her emerge stronger.

''My husband and family being maligned by the political opponents is deplorable but it won't cow me down,'' she said while addressing a series of election meetings in Rae Bareli.

Priyanka, reacting for the first time to the diatribe of BJP leaders, though without naming any one, said ''my
grandmother had taught me not to cow down before such slur.

''My family and me will emerge stronger out of this,'' she said.

She said it was ridiculous that political adversaries were indulging in such personal attacks while putting basic issues of food, roads and development on the backburner.

''It is now up to the public to look at it if such forces deserve to be in power or not,'' she pointed out.

''Do not vote for Sonia Gandhi in the current polls,but cast your ballot for the nation and safeguarding its culture and heritage of unity in diversity,'' Priyanka told a motley crowd in her mothers pocket borough.

Sonia Gandhi is the Congress candidate from Rae Bareli which was a traditional seat of slain Indira Gandhi.

Priyanka mounted a spirited defence for her husband Robert
Vadra and said instead of talking of constructive and
developmental agenda, BJP leaders were indulging in personal
attacks and useless discussions (fizul ki batein).

She said she felt sad and tells her children that the day was not far when the truth would come out.

Taking Indira Gandhis advice to face such onslaughts, she said that Indiraji had advised them to form a protective
cover in the heart when such torrents were fired by opponents
as truth never remains concealed for ever.

Priyanka said harsh things were being uttered and venom was being poured in society to create rifts and attempts were
being made to humiliate their family for political gains.

Taking on Priyanka, BJP leaders Meenakshi Lekhi and Prakash Javdekar, said her anguish was genuine as Robert is her
husband, but the nation had been ''cheated and every penny
should be returned.''

Campaign ended today in 117 constituencies, from where many stalwarts and debutants are testing their electoral fortunes.

The spiteful election campaign witnessed a plethora of FIRs and notices for hate speeches.

The trend ran unabated for the campaign in the rest of the 194 constituencies which would go to the polls in the
next three rounds on April 30, May 7 and May 12.

As the cacophony of election campaign ended in 117 seats, authorities swung into action to tie up loose
ends for voting on Thursday.

BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi expressed displeasure over the 'petty statements' issued by some of the
party leaders in last few days.

In a veiled reference to senior BJP leader Giriraj Singh's recent statement that all those opposing Modi should go to
Pakistan, he tweeted that he disapproved of any such
irresponsible statement.

'I disapprove any such irresponsible statement and appeal to those making them to kindly refrain from doing so.'

Mr Giriraj Singh has chosen to stick to his statement even after it raked up a controversy.

Modi ,who have covered more than two lakh kms ever since his anointment as partys candidate for the PMs slot, addressed a slew of meetings and there was no let up in
ongoing attacks on the Nehru-Gandhi family and Congress.

BJPs Amritsar nominee Arun Jaitely also echoed similar sentiments about controversial statements and said BJP would
not divert its attention from developmental agenda. He distanced himself from petty statements. Mr Rajnath Singh, addressing a meeting in Farrukhabad, said

corruption would be stamped out if Modi was voted in.

Several incidents of pre-poll violence were reported in Assam where six constituencies prepared to vote in its third and final phase on April 24.

Miscreants reportedly set ablaze an election office of Asom Gana Parishad in Paikarkuchi area of Nalbari district, under Barpeta Lok Sabha constituency.

An election office of Bodoland People's Front was also allegedly torched by miscreants in Chirang district in Kokrajhar Lok Sabha constituency.

The house of a BPF worker was also damaged in the same district.

In a similar incident, an election office of BJP was allegedly vandalised by miscreants in Nagaon Lok Sabha constituency.

The six seats are Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Guwahati, Mangaldoi and Nowgong.

Condemning the recent 'hate speeches' by Giriraj Singh, VHP leader Pravin Togadia and Shiv Sena's Ram Das Kadam, Congress alleged that the statements were part of a 'concerted conspiracy' by BJP, Modi and the RSS to divide the nation on communal lines.

''In their blind lust for power at any cost, Mr Modi, BJP and the Sangh Parivar are implementing a concerted conspiracy to divide the country on communal lines,'' Congress stated.

Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi held a road show in Alwar to garner votes for MoS Defence, Jitendra Singh, who is seeking re-election from his home seat. Rahul participated in the road show on the final day of the campaign in the parliamentary constituency.

Several party leaders, including state party chief Sachin Pilot and Singh, accompanied Rahul.

The former royal and two-time MLA Jitendra Singh is a key functionary in the young Rahul brigade and is pitted against the BJP nominee Mahant Chandnath Yogi, said to be a close associate of Yoga guru Baba Ramdev.

Ms Sonia Gandhi addressed meetings in West Bengal and asked people to be vigilant against those who were raising bogey of promises just to grab power at the centre.

The sixth phase polling on Thursday will involve all the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamil Nadu, where the performance of the Congress and the BJP would be crucial for their final tally.

Ruling AIADMK had initially entered into an alliance with the Left parties which later fell through.

Among those whose fate would be decided in this phase in Uttar Pradesh are BJP candidate and actor-turned-politician Hema Malini, who is contesting from Mathura.

She is pitted against sitting MP Jayant Chaudhary of RLD.

Also at stake is the fate of former SP leader Amar Singh, who has now joined the RLD which has entered into an alliance with the Congress. He has been fielded from Fatehpur Sikri.

Mainpuri, from where Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is contesting, is also going to polls in this phase. SP leader Ramgopal Yadav's son Akshay is trying his luck in Ferozabad.

The sixth phase also involves 19 constituencies of Maharashtra where Priya Dutt and Milind Deora of the Congress besides Anant Geete of the Shiv Sena are in the fray.

Ms Dutt is pitted against Poonam Mahajan, daughter of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan.

(Posted on 22-04-2014)