Campaign ends for the fourth phase of polling

The BJP and the INDIA Bloc exchange barbs over big business, unemployment

Updated - May 12, 2024 06:35 am IST

Published - May 11, 2024 09:42 pm IST - New Delhi

People wait to buy tickets at Pandit Nehru Bus Station in Vijayawada on May 11, 2024. to go home and exercise their franchise.

People wait to buy tickets at Pandit Nehru Bus Station in Vijayawada on May 11, 2024. to go home and exercise their franchise. | Photo Credit: K.V.S. Giri

Campaigning ended for the fourth phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections in 96 seats in 10 States and Union Territories on Saturday. During the campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued his attacks against the Opposition, raising a range of issues, including alleged corruption, nepotism and Muslim appeasement, while the Opposition’s campaign, led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and others, was based on unemployment, threats to reservations, and general economic distress. The release of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal from Tihar jail on bail is believed to have given an edge to the Opposition on the last day of the campaign for the third phase.

Elections to all the seats in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, and 28 seats in the Odisha Assembly, will also take place on Monday.

Addressing an election rally in Telangana, Mr. Modi countered the Opposition’s attack against his government citing growing inequality and unemployment. Mr. Modi said the Congress leadership had stopped blaming the five top industrialists and asked if the party had received tempo loads of black money from them. “Why did they stop criticising these big industrialists all of a sudden? What transpired behind the abrupt halt to the rhetoric? Is it because of black money transactions or any secret deal to fund the Congress party?” Mr. Modi had asked.

The Congress countered, and Mr. Gandhi, in a video, asked Mr. Modi if receiving money in tempos was “a personal experience” and said the Prime Minister had become “a little scared”. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge dared Mr. Modi to take action against “Ambani and Adani”. “I am asking why his government did not take any action if, according to his allegation, we received black money from these industrialists? Is it because they themselves received black money?” Mr. Kharge said on Saturday.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha also helped the Opposition’s campaign by asking the BJP why it had not addressed unemployment, and worked against reservation by the privatising public sector.

Kejriwal’s release

All the parties of the INDIA bloc welcomed the release of Mr. Kejriwal and said it was a setback to the Enforcement Directorate and the Centre. Mr. Kejriwal launched his campaign by addressing people on a roadshow. He said the INDIA bloc will form the next government, and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would be a part of the Cabinet. He also raked a controversy by asking the BJP whether Union Home Minister Amit Shah would replace Mr. Modi as Prime Minister as the latter turns 75 very soon. Mr. Shah quickly countered this and said Mr. Modi would continue to lead the country.

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