Curtains came down on the bitter, often acrimonious, campaign in one of the most-tightly contested Assembly elections in Delhi, considered by many as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a view rejected by top BJP leaders.
The high-decibel campaign in which BJP has staked its all on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image against a resurgent Aam Aadmi Party in the February 7 polls ended at 6 PM.
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.
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 into the party and made her 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.
Under Modi, after May the BJP won Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana and emerged the second largest party in terms of seats and the highest percentage of votes in Jammu and Kashmir.
Already BJP leaders Shah and Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have dismissed projections that the Delhi election is 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.