Maharashtra poll campaign ends

Mumbai, Oct 11 | Updated: Oct 12 2004, 05:35am hrs
Campaigning for the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly polls scheduled for October 13 ended on Monday evening. National leaders of both combines Congress-NCP-RPI and Shiv Sena-BJP were roped in a last minute bid to win over voters.

High pitch campaigns of political parties saw each one attacking the performance of the other. The Congress concluded its campaign with party president Sonia Gandhi ending her hectic state-wide tour with an impressive roadshow in Mumbai with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also chipping in earlier with a couple of public meetings in the backward regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada.

NCP president and Union agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, was another leader, who, despite flagging health, addressed nearly 100 public rallies, focussing mainly on issues of governance and farmers problems.

The saffron combine also saw former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Sena supremo Bal Thackeray addressing rallies, although ill health forced them both to cancel a number of meetings. However, their absence was more than made up by other party leaders like LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiah Naidu, while Uddhav and Raj Thackeray tried to make up for Bal Thackerays absence.

Expectedly, the combine played the regional card, besides attacking the Congress misrule and the super-PM (Sonia Gandhi), while Mr Thackeray attacked the DF governments proposal to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra.

Other star campaigners included Mayawati, whose Bahujan Samaj Party is contesting the maximum number of 272 seats.