The more-than-a-month long campaign for the crucial Uttar Pradesh polls ends today. In the past month, we have seen a flood of accusations, punch lines and humour dominating the poll rhetoric.
Here are ten takeaways from the campaign that was:
1. Donkey days
This election campaign will be remembered for its references to the animal kingdom. The cow, buffalo, donkey, rhino, snake and frog have been used to address rivals. But the donkey has surpassed the rest in terms of popularity.
Gujarat's donkey or "Ghudkhar" in Chota Rann shot to fame after Akhilesh Yadav used the term in a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The "gadha" was never before discussed in politics at length. So, well, cheers to the donkey.
2. Power current to politics without current
This campaign seems to be powered by a 440 W current. At least chief minister Akhilesh Yadav thinks it is. He challenged Modi to touch the wire and experience the shock, for Modi and Amit Shah have routinely attacked the UP government for not providing electricity as advertised.
The claim game has not spared anyone in politics. Power minister Piyush Goyal must now come up with a status report, no less. Amid the accusations, the people of Uttar Pradesh are bewildered as to who is right and who is wrong — and yes, electricity is still a big dream for them.
|From BJP to BSP to the SP-Congress alliance, all of them have played with the caste arithmetic. Photo: PTI
3. In the name of Ganga
"Khao Ganga Maiyya ki kasam" is the most famous dialogue in the campaign. Akhilesh urges ordinary citizens to acknowledge the work done by his government.
Modi calls himself the adopted son of River Ganga. But she never gets to see someone working seriously to cleanse her. The much-hyped Rs 2,000 crore Namami Ganga project is yet to gather steam.
Cabinet minister Uma Bharti blames the state for it, but the fact remains that no sewage lines came into existence — and the Ganga continues to be as polluted as it used to be. The pledge to clean it is equally polluted.
4. The caste matrix
This campaign will be best known for the permutations and combinations of castes. The Yadavs, Brahmins, Kayasthas, Muslims, Kurmis, Dalits and OBCs — every community has been lured by the key fronts.
From BJP to BSP to the SP-Congress alliance, all of them have played with the caste arithmetic.
Only time will tell if the janta have voted on the basis on development — or if caste politics will prevail.
Almost all parties have fielded caste-based candidates. Mayawati has gone to the extent of fielding 100 Muslim candidates apart from Dalits.
BJP has given priority to the upper castes and SP tries to strike a balance among Yadavs, Muslims and the others.
5. Vote polarisation
This Uttar Pradesh election campaign has been synonymous with polarisation. BJP raised issues like land distribution for graveyards, slaughterhouse shutdown, shortage of power supply during Eid and Diwali and alleged discrimination on the basis of caste and religion in the state government's laptop distribution scheme.
This put the campaign on fire and the Akhilesh government hit back to clarify. Western and eastern UP witnessed the most polarisation during the political slugfest.
6. Dynasty at its peak
While Samajwadi Party remained at the top when it came to fielding candidates from the family; BJP and Congress were not far behind.
SP's popular bahu Aparna Yadav, Naresh Agarwal, Azam Khan, don Akhilesh Singh's daughter Aditi Singh are in the fray, while Sanjay Singh's first wife Garima Singh too has fought the elections — and their family members left no stone unturned in campaigning for them.
7. Rahul attacks Modi, but not Mayawati
Akhilesh and Rahul launched their campaign with the slogan, "UP ko ye saath pasand hai."
While Akhilesh attacked both Modi and Mayawati throughout the campaign, Rahul avoided taking digs at Mayawati, fuelling speculation about a possible Congress-BSP alliance in the future.
8. Gayatri Prajapati becomes the bone of contention for SP
Akhilesh's cabinet minister Gayatri Prajapati has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
In the run-up to the elections, Akhilesh and Mulayam brought the tainted minister back into the fray.
Later, his candidature from Amethi put the SP-Congress alliance to test. Then came the rape case that made him flee Amethi following the polls.
He always has put Akhilesh in a spot. Though the latter campaigned for the rape accused in Amethi, it was to make peace with his father.
9. The 300-mark
Every party has trained its guns on mission 300. Amit Shah, Mayawati and Akhilesh — every leader has boasted of achieving the target, but their voices have died down in the last leg of the campaign. Political pandits don't seem to agree.
10. Varanasi, a prestigious issue for BJP
Varanasi has turned into a mini war arena. Narendra Modi's three-day road show to connect with the Banaraswalla made this much evident.
The Akhilesh-Rahul joint road show also created a stir in the city — which every party is vying for because it's Modi Lok Sabha constituency. Losing the turf means a lot for BJP.
Over 15 ministers at every nook and corner tried their best to push their agenda forward in the city. However, "parivartan" in Kashi doesn not include Ganga cleaning for the saffron party.
Outgoing CM Akhilesh outnumbered the rest of the campaigners by addressing six rallies everyday — holding a staggering 235 in last the past month.
While SP rival Mayawati addressed two to 58 rallies, Rahul Gandhi held 50 rallies, besides holding four road shows with the UP CM.