Saturday will see a pitched battle on the campaign front with only two days left for campaigning before the mandatory 48-hours of "silence" begins ahead of polling for the third phase of the Lok Sabha election on 23 April.
On Friday, a joint rally was organized in Mainpuri by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) where BSP chief Mayawati and SP founder and patron Mulayam Singh Yadav shared a stage after more than two decades. Mayawati lauded Mulayam for his efforts to "uplift the backward classes" and called him their "real leader". She also criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom she dubbed as "farzi" or counterfeit.
Modi, significantly, did not address any public rally on Friday. He only spoke at the National Traders' Convention, the Rashtriya Vyapari Dhanyawad Sammelan, at Talkatora Stadium. But on Saturday, he will be addressing four public rallies in Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
His rallies are scheduled at Etah and Aonla in Uttar Pradesh. And it is in these rallies that he is expected to respond to the barbs thrown at him by the SP and BSP at the Mainpuri rally. Modi will also address meetings at Buniadpur in West Bengal and Araria in Bihar.
On Friday, two important developments took place that might be used both by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress to launch fresh attacks on each other. Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi resigned from the party and joined Shiv Sena on Friday. Chaturvedi resigned because some Congress members who had allegedly misbehaved with her during a press conference in Mathura and were suspended from the party, were reinstated.
While social media was abuzz with this news and Congress was criticized for failing to "protect the dignity" of its own female member, Friday was a difficult day for BJP too as the party came under fire for a remark by its Lok Sabha candidate from Bhopal.
Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the prime accused in Malegaon blast case that took place in 2008, said Hemant Karkare, the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad chief who died during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, "got what he deserved". She said the IPS officer died because of his "karma", referring to his investigation which led to the arrest of Pragya and other Hindutva outfit members.
Rahul Gandhi took no time to target BJP for Thakur's comment. Rahul, who will be addressing rallies at Supaul in Bihar and Bilaspur and Bhilai in Chhattisgarh, might indeed rake up this issue to his benefit.
Hemant Karkare gave his life protecting India. He must be treated with respect.
" Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 19, 2019