The three week-long campaigning for 117-seat Punjab Assembly ended this evening with ruling SAD-BJP alliance and opposition Congress putting their best foot forward to wrest power in the January 30 polls.
The campaigning by and large remained peaceful in the state which saw national leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, BJP leaders L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Uma Bharti and BSP Chief Mayawati criss-cross the state.
Besides Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, the other campaigners included Team Anna members who, however, did not advocate in favour or any political party confining their campaign to corruption and setting up of a strong Lokpal. Film and TV actors Hema Malini, Shatrughan Sinha, Rajesh Khanna, Kirron Kher and Samriti Irani and a host of local singers and actors, including Gurdas Mann, Harbhajan Mann and Gurpreet Ghuggi besides cricketer-turned-politicians Navjot Sidhu and Mohd Azharudin added to the colour.
The other leaders who visited the state included Union Ministers Ambika Soni and Ghulam Nabi Azad, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, former Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Haryana Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Om Parkash Chautala, respectively.
Leaders of Left and other parties, including Brinda Karat and Sitaram Yechury, also toured the state which will see a total of 1,078 candidates, including 93 women, in fray. About 1.76 crore voters, including 83.61 lakh women, will seal the fate of the candidates at 19,841 polling stations, including five identified as “hyper sensitive” and 32 as “sensitive”. Besides Punjab Police personnel, about 200 companies of central paramilitary forces will be deployed in the state to ensure free and fair polling.
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