Desperate to retain his chair, Akhilesh Yadav addressed a whopping 221 rallies in 36 days. (File photo)
The guns are no longer blazing and the armies have marched back to their camps. With curtains down on campaigning for one of the most keenly watched and caustic assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in the recent times, political heavyweights, as also their foot soldiers, are now sitting back only to set their eyes on the last phase on Wednesday and finally on March 11 vote counting.
Over a dozen helicopters and private planes that were used by the bigwigs of the BSP, SP, Congress and the BJP have gone back to the hangers and have had a "good night sleep" after an arduous campaign of more than two months.
Sources said Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav spent quality time with his children after a long time on Monday and got a long sleep after a hectic campaign that saw him hopping across most parts of the state. Desperate to retain his chair against a resurgent BJP and BSP, Mr Yadav addressed a whopping 221 rallies in 36 days, spending almost five-six hours flying.
"He has lead an amazing campaign without showing any signs of being tired or irritated and we are hopeful that the toil will reap us a good electoral harvest on March 11," a close aide told the media.
The Chief Minister's wife, Dimple Yadav, who is also the Lok Sabha MP from Kannauj, also hit the campaign trail like never before.
Playing a quiet role, she was occasionally seen in public and government functions in the past five years but didn't speak much. This time around, the electorate saw her transformation and she campaigned with a flair, taking on BSP's Mayawati and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Accompanied by senior party leader Juhi Singh, she addressed as many as 33 rallies to drum up support for her husband.
Missing from the scene, however, was former SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who unlike last assembly polls in 2012, just addressed four rallies. Of these, three were for family members who are in the fray and one for old colleague Parasnath Yadav. During the last election, he led from the front and addressed 100-plus rallies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after hectic back-to-back roads shows over three days in his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi and a 'dharmik parikrama
' of various temples, is back to his daily chores. Having addressed 23 rallies in the state for over two months, he flew to his native state Gujarat on Tuesday to inaugurate India's longest cable bridge. He will also visit Somnath temple.
BJP chief Amit Shah, who had a whirlwind campaigning schedule, is out for some quiet moments, away from the hurly-burly of political debates. After addressing more than 200 rallies in a two month-long campaign, Mr Shah is back to his bungalow in Lutyens Delhi and is monitoring development at the party's Ashok Road office.
Keshav Prasad Maurya, the BJP's UP unit chief, has been travelling in his SUV for almost four months now and has taken a "chota sa break
", a party leader said. But, at the same time, he is marshaling the party cadres for the last round in Poorvanchal, which will go to the polls on Wednesday. At stake are 40 seats.
Party general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak, who also traveled extensively during the election campaign, asid he was "back to normal". He has resumed his morning walk at the Lohia Park in the posh Gomtinagar area of the state capital and is hopeful of a BJP majority in the assembly and is now awaiting the March 11 vote count.
BSP chief Mayawati, who has been the chief minister four times, fiercely tried to regain lost ground and romp home to power.
Ably assisted by party leaders Satish Chandra Mishra and Naseemuddin Siddiqui, she led a brave campaign amid reports that the "elephant was a poor third" and held sway over her Dalit vote bank. She addressed 52 major rallies across the state and logged more than 60 flying hours.