Lok Janshakti Party President Ramvilas Paswan during an election rally at Sant Nagar in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI photo)
The campaigning for the December 4 Delhi assembly polls, seen as a major battle ahead of next year's Lok Sabha election, ended Tuesday evening as all major contenders for power made last-minute attempts to woo voters.
With this, the curtain came down on campaigning in all the five states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi which were due to assembly polls.
The campaigning in Delhi saw major parties fielding top leaders like Sonia Gandhi, L K Advani, Narendra Modi, Mayawati and Nitish Kumar who addressed a series of rallies.
Nascent Aam Admi Party (AAP) confined its electioneering mainly to door-to-door campaigning and is seen as potentially a major force with opinion polls project significant support base for it.
A total of 1.19 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise on Wednesday. There are over 4.05 lakh first-time voters.
BJP's high-voltage campaign was led by party veteran L K Advani and its Prime Ministerial candidate Modi who targeted Sheila Dikshit dispensation on various issues while appealing to people to use the opportunity to vote out the "corrupt" Congress government which has been in power for 15 years.
Both Congress and BJP, main contenders for power, have dismissed AAP as a serious contender though pre-poll surveys project considerable support for the party.
While Congress harped on development it brought to the city, BJP accused it of pilling up miseries on the common man while promising to bring down the power tariff by 30 per cent besides setting up a commission to examine how food prices can be slashed.
Modi did a whirlwind tour in the city addressing a number of election meetings during which he attacked the Congress government for its "failure" in tackling major issues facing the city.
A total of 810 candidates are in the fray for the 70-member assembly.
BJP has fielded candidates in 66 seats and Congress and AAP in all 70 constituencies.
BSP has fielded candidates in 69 seats, NCP in nine and Samajwadi Party in 27 seats. A total of 224 independents are also in the fray.
Prominent BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, Amit Shah, Najma Heptullah, Vinod Khanna, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Navjot Singh Siddhu also took part in campaigning in the last few days.
Congress' campaign was led by Dikshit who addressed over 40 rallies in the last six days during which she accused the opposition parties of misleading people of Delhi to grab power. She asked the people to vote for Congress to ensure "continuity" and "inclusive development".
Sonia Gandhi had addressed one rally while Rahul another in South Delhi's Dakshinpuri which had witnessed low turnout.
BSP's Mayawati also addressed a number of election meetings.
BSP had emerged as the third largest party in the last Delhi assembly election in 2008 with a 14.05 per cent vote share.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also addressed two rallies in support of JD(U) candidates and tried to reach out to migrants and Purvanchali population which constitute around one-fourth of the 1.19 crore voters.
Delhi's Chief Election Office said 64,000 Delhi police and 107 companies of central paramilitary forces (100 personnel per company) have been deployed to help conduct a free and fair election.
Out of 11,753 polling booths, 630 polling stations have been declared critical and hyper-critical and central para- military forces will be deployed in all these stations, Delhi Chief Electoral officer Vijay Dev said.
"In all these polling stations, we will have micro observers and CCTV cameras. This time, we are also introducing live webcasting by which we will be able to watch proceedings in the polling stations live in our control room," he said.
Besides, flying squads, static surveilance teams and video surveilance teams will also be keeping a close watch on the conduct of the poll.
Security has been instensified in areas which are vulnerable to misuse of money, liquor and musclemen such as slum clusters and unauthorised colonies, besides the border with UP and Haryana.
Dev said not only candidates or political parties attempting to bribe voters will face action but for the first time any person accepting such illegal gratification will also be booked under IPC.
In a bid to boost voter turnout, nine 'model' polling stations with spruced-up infrastructure have been set up for the first time.
To ensure that Delhi voters, who work in NCR, can cast their votes, Delhi EC has talked to district administrations of neighbouring states to give them them off on December 4.
"We have talked to neighbouring district admistrations to give Delhi employees leave on the election day. If any employer deducts salaries of such employees or force them to come to office, action will be taken against them", said Dev.
To ensure that officials on poll duty along with general public do not face any hurdle in reaching polling stations, special services of Metro and DTC buses have been made available.
Metro will start its service from 4.30am on December 4 while buses will start plying from 3 am from specific terminals.
Distribution of voter slips with photo to eligible voters has been done this time around by the Delhi EC to ensure transparency and weed out bogus voting.
If for any reason anyone does not get his or her voter's card, he or she can still cast votes using this facility, said Dev adding over 80 per cent photo voter slips have been issued so far.
Moreover, those who have not received their slips can get them from voter's assistance booths at polling stations.
Dev said elaborate arrangements have been made for the safety and security of Electronic Voting Machines.
"Each EVM has been thoroughly checked by engineers in the presence of political parties to avoid any confusion, he said.
Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system, under which a voter can verify his voting details, is being used for the first time in Delhi Election. This system will be in place in New Delhi constituency.
Dry day has been announced from Monday evening till the time election gets over on December 4.