The Congress on Thursday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explain his stance on subjects such as a nationwide caste census and youth unemployment ahead of his rally in Bihar’s Jamui. The party also said that the Modi government has shown “extreme vindictiveness” to the people of West Bengal for rejecting the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2021 Assembly elections. The BJP, meanwhile, criticised the Congress over its leaders’ remarks about the prime minister and actor and parliamentarian Hema Malini.

Here’s a look at today’s top developments:

  • Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Thursday said in a social media post that the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar, at the insistence of its former allies Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, released the caste census data in the state last year. Ramesh said that back then, Modi had accused Kumar of “dividing the country in the name of caste”. The Congress MP asked: “Having since joined hands with him, what does the prime minister think of the caste census conducted by his old new ally?” He also raised questions regarding the BJP’s vision of rescuing “Bihar’s youth from hopelessness and unemployment”.

  • In another post, the Congress accused the Modi government of showing “extreme vindictiveness” to the people of West Bengal for rejecting the BJP in the 2021 Assembly polls. Ramesh asked Modi why the Central government was so reluctant to give anything to the state “when it is always so ready to ask [for votes] when election times come”.

  • In his rally to kick off the National Democratic Alliance’s campaign in Bihar, Modi criticised the “previous Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal government” in the state for corruption, reported The Hindu. “This Congress-RJD government in Bihar even opposed the Bharat Ratna award conferred on [veteran socialist leader] Karpoori Thakur; they opposed a tribal becoming the President of India,” he said. “This ghamandia [arrogant] alliance wants to keep Bihar in the lantern age.”

  • Speaking at another election rally in West Bengal’s Coochbehar, the prime minister targeted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and said: “What happened to the women of Sandeshkhali was a result of TMC’s misrule.” He said that the BJP’s focus was empowering women, reported Hindustan Times. “The culprits of Sandeshkhali will spend their lives in jail,” he said.

  • Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has declared assets of over Rs 20 crore in his nomination papers, reported PTI. Of the total, movable assets are worth Rs 9,24,59,264 and the purchasing price of his self-acquired immovable assets is Rs 7,93,03,977, according to the affidavit. It also showed that the current market value of the self-acquired immovable assets was Rs 9,04,89,000 and the value of his inherited assets was Rs 2,10,13,598. Gandhi said he has a liability of Rs 49,79,184. He filed his nomination papers from Kerala’s Wayanad on Wednesday.

  • BJP leader Amit Malviya on Wednesday shared an undated video on social media, in which Congress’ Randeep Surjewala can be heard making objectionable remarks about actor-politician Hema Malini. Malviya accused Surjewala of making “vile, sexist” remarks against the BJP MP and candidate from Mathura.

  • Another senior Congress leader Charan Das Mahant was also criticised by the BJP after he said during a rally in Chhattisgarh that a “stick-wielding” person who can “break Modi’s head” was needed to take on the prime minister, reported The Indian Express. “With the elections coming closer, the Congress has lost its mental balance sensing people’s growing support in favour of Prime Minister Modi,” said BJP national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi.

  • Businessman Robert Vadra, husband of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, told ANI that the people of Amethi expect him to represent their constituency. He also criticised Smriti Irani, the current MP from the constituency, and said that the voters felt they had made a mistake by electing her.