With just a day to go before campaigning comes to an end, top leaders on Saturday threw themselves into electioneering in a bid to attract voters.
April 6 is the busiest day in the election schedule for Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry. Up for grabs are 234 seats of the Tamil Nadu assembly, 140 seats in Kerala, 40 constituencies in Assam, 31 seats in West Bengal and all 30 seats in Puducherry.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP’s charge in West Bengal and Assam on Saturday. At a rally in South 24 Parganas, he said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had conceded defeat in Nandigram and was already planning to contest from Varanasi in the 2024 general election.
Modi also addressed a rally in Assam, where he said the state has decided to vote for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government as the people were against violence, and for development, peace, unity and stability. The people have rejected parties attacking the identity of Assam for decades, he said in Tamulpur.
BJP chief JP Nadda also addressed a rally in Assam, in which he criticised the Congress for its stance on not implementing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Nadda told ANI news agency: “I can’t understand who are the people who make these guarantees and how limited is their knowledge. Can a state law overrule a law passed by Parliament? They’re misleading people. It’s a display of mental bankruptcy.”
Meanwhile, state BJP minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said he would return to the campaign trail after getting a reprieve from the Election Commission. The EC reduced the 48-hour campaign ban imposed on him to 24 hours after he offered unconditional apology for making threatening remarks against Bodoland People’s Front chief Hagrama Mohilary, a candidate of the Congress-led Mahajot alliance.
Mamata Banerjee once again accused the BJP of engineering communal strife in West Bengal and urged the minority community to not “fall in the trap of a BJP-aided party from Hyderabad and its Bengal ally, which are out to polarise votes”. She was referring to Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM and Abbas Siddiqui’s ISF.
In another development, DMK leader and Lok Sabha member Kanimozhi said she had tested positive for COVID, and was self-isolating at home. She said she is likely to undergo treatment at a private hospital in Chennai.