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High-voltage campaign comes to an end in Bengal, it’s over to voters now

Kolkata, May 30 : Campaigning for the seventh and final phase of Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal scheduled on Saturday came to an end on Thursday with the ruling Trinamool Congress and opposition BJP going neck and neck in terms of the number of campaign meetings and roadshows held by both parties in the state since March.

That the BJP left no stone unturned to ensure that its tally increases further in the state became evident given the number of times Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned in West Bengal from even before the announcement of the election schedule.

The Prime Minister addressed as many as 23 election meetings and participated in one mega roadshow in the state. Out of the 23 meetings, 20 were held after the polling dates were announced on March 16.

Probably sensing that things might get tough for the Trinamool this time, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addressed multiple election meetings besides conducting roadshows in each of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

“In certain constituencies, the Chief Minister addressed four to five rallies,” said a senior Trinamool leader, who claimed that the Chief Minister attended more than 100 election meetings and roadshows this time.

He also said that Trinamool General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee, who is seeking re-election from Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district, addressed multiple meetings in other constituencies as well.

However, there were talks in the political circles of the state about internal differences in the Trinamool over the ‘new blood vs old guards’ issue as Abhishek Banerjee skipped campaigning in three crucial seats — Dum Dum, Serampore, and Kolkata Uttar.

The Trinamool candidates in these three constituencies — Saugata Roy (Dum Dum), Kalyan Banerjee (Serampore), and Sudip Bandopadhyay (Kolkata Uttar) — are considered to be three pillars of the ‘old guard’ regime in the party.

In terms of numbers, the opposition leader in the state Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, reportedly participated in as many as 174 campaign events, including election meetings and roadshows.

While Mamata Banerjee and Abshishek Banerjee made extensive use of helicopters for campaigning, Suvendu Adhikari mainly depended on road trips or train rides to cover the different constituencies.

While the BJP and the Trinamool mainly focused on big public gatherings and mega roadshows, the Congress-Left Front alliance candidates concentrated more on individual door-to-door campaigns and roadside meetings.

The star campaigners for the alliance this time were state Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, and CPI-M politburo member and state Secretary Md Salim, among others.

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