9.45 pm: Here are the day’s main developments.

  • The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party finalised its seat sharing deal in Maharashtra on Saturday, with the Congress getting 24 seats and the NCP 20.
  • The National Democratic Alliance announced the names of its candidates for 39 of the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar. BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad will contest from Shatrughan Sinha’s Patna Sahib constituency.
  • The Congress released another list of candidates, including senior leaders Raj Babbar and Renuka Choudhary.
  • Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath announced that senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh will contest the 2019 general election from the Bhopal constituency. Soon after, Singh said he would have preferred to contest from his home turf Rajgarh, but accepted the party’s decision.
  • People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti announced she will contest from the Anantnag seat. 
  • Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda will contest from Tumkur in Karnataka on a joint Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) ticket.
  • The Kerala unit of the Congress has asked Rahul Gandhi to contest from the Wayanad constituency but he has neither accepted nor declined it yet. 
  • Congress President Rahul Gandhi not only criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi but also hit out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a rally in Malda on Saturday. He launched the Congress’ campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
  • A group of distressed farmers from Tamil Nadu announced plans to take on Modi in the elections by filing 111 nominations from his Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. But they have promised to withdraw their plans if the BJP agrees to include a range of the farmers’ demands in its election manifesto.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it is “ironical and reprehensible” that parties that claim to be followers of socialist ideologue Ram Manohar Lohia are desperate to form an “opportunistic maha milawat [adulteration]” alliance with the Congress. Responding to Narendra Modi’s remark that opposition was betraying the principles of Lohia, Akhilesh Yadav asked which principles and said the BJP was schizophrenic.

9.30 pm: BJP appoints Uma Bharti its national vice-president, says JP Nadda.

9 pm: BJP releases another list of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections as well as six seats for bye-elections in Gujarat and Goa.

7.45 pm: Odisha MLA Duryadhan Majhi resigns from Bharatiya Janata Party after he was denied a ticket for the upcoming Assembly elections in the state, PTI reports. He is the only legislator who was denied a ticket for the upcoming polls as the party has decided to not field candidates who are older than 80 years. Majhi is 81 years old.

Odisha will vote for its state Assembly and the Lok Sabha in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.

7.03 pm: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti will contest the Lok Sabha election from Anantnag, PTI reports. The party will not field nominees from Udhampur and Jammu constituencies.

6.58 pm: As many as 111 Tamil Nadu farmers plan to contest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, PTI reports. Tamil Nadu farmers’ leader P Ayyakannu says they plan to fight from Uttar Pradesh to urge the Bharatiya Janata Party to include their demands in its manifesto. The “moment they assure in their manifesto that our demands will be fulfilled, we will drop our decision to contest against Modi”, Ayyakannu adds.

6.35 pm: But now, we can see Rahul Gandhi’s development model, Prasad says. Observing that since he is an MP, Gandhi’s source of income is his salary, Prasad asks how it went from Rs 55 lakh in 2004 to Rs 9 crore in 2014.

“In 2004 election affidavit, he [Gandhi] declared his wealth to be Rs 55,38,123, it increased to Rs 2 crore in 2009 and to Rs 9 crore in 2014,” Prasad says. “We would like to know how your asset grew to Rs 9 crore from Rs 55 lakh.”

6.32 pm: India is witnessing “Rahul Gandhi model of development”, alleges BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad. It was witnessing “Robert Vadra model of development” in the past, in which a person could invest Rs 6 to Rs 7 lakhs, and become the owner of Rs 700 to Rs 800 crore in a few years, he says.

5.58 pm: “The unanimous view was that we are a party still in the stages of infancy and that we should also focus on mass contact programme,” Shah Faesal adds. “This was also our response to those elements who were accusing us of being stooges of the Centre for dividing votes in the current elections.”

He adds that everyone should vote. “Whether there is boycott or not, elections will be held and people will be elected to Parliament. So, people should take part in the democratic process so that the right candidates are elected,” he says.

5.56 pm: Former IAS officer Shah Faesal says his newly-launched party, the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement, will not contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. “We have had several meetings of the core group of our party over the past few days and we have decided that we will not contest the Lok Sabha elections this time,” Faesal says, according to PTI.

5.38 pm: The Congress and the Nationalist Congress party finalise seat sharing deal in Maharashtra for the upcoming General Elections. Maharashtra Congress Chief Ashok Chavan says Congress will contest on 24 seats and the NCP on 20 seats. The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana will fight from 2 seats and the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi and the Yuva Swabhimani Paksha will contest from one seat each, ANI reports.

5.13 pm: Janata Dal (Secular) founder and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda will contest from Tumkur in Karnataka in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, ANI reports. JD(S) spokesperson Ramesh Babu says Gowda will be the combined candidate of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular).

4.32 pm: “I ask the Congress president to apologise for Sam Pitroda’s remarks to the country, the families of the martyrs and our brave soldiers,” Shah says. He also claims that the Congress has a “tradition” of playing “appeasement politics” before elections, and asks if “vote bank politics [were] above the blood of martyrs”.

4.30 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah says Congress president Rahul Gandhi owes an apology to the nation, the armed forces and to the families of the soldiers who died in the Pulwama terror attack for questions that Congress leader Sam Pitroda raised about India’s recent air strikes on Pakistan.

4.11 pm: BJP releases fourth list of 11 candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, ANI reports.

3.29 pm: “The BJP seems to be schizophrenic,” Akhilesh Yadav says. “On the one hand they try to coopt Gandhi Ji, Bhagat Singh, Sardar Patel, Dr Ambedkar and Dr Lohia and on the other hand they follow people who these leaders opposed and disagreed with.”

3.27 pm: Samajwadi Party leader and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav says the BJP is trying to co-opt icons such as Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh and Ram Manohar Lohia. Responding to Narendra Modi’s remark that opposition was betraying the principles of Lohia, Yadav says: “I wonder which principles are being spoken of.”

3.25 pm: “Today, a moot question facing 130 crore Indians is: How can those who betrayed Dr Lohia be expected to serve the nation?” says Narendra Modi. “Today they are betraying the principles of Dr Lohia, tomorrow they will also betray the people of India.”

3.24 pm: Modi also invokes Lohia’s call for “complete equality between men and women”, and says parties “neck deep in vote bank politics” had opposed the government’s move to abolish triple talaq.

3.22 pm: Modi says Lohia knew how disastrous the Congress was. Today, he would be “horrified” at the political developments, Modi says. “Dr Lohia always believed that dynastic politics was inimical to democracy,” Modi adds. “He would have been flabbergasted to see his ‘followers’ think about their own families first instead of the nation.”

3.20 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says it is “ironical and reprehensible” that parties that claim to be followers of socialist ideologue Ram Manohar Lohia are desperate to form an “opportunistic maha milawat [adulteration]” alliance with the Congress. “Anti-Congressism” was Lohia’s heart and soul, Modi says in a blog post to mark the ideologue’s 109th birth anniversary.

2.29 pm: Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh will contest the Lok Sabha elections from Bhopal, say reports. Bhopal has been a BJP bastion since 1989. Bharatiya Janata Party’s Alok Sanjar is currently the MP from Bhopal. The saffron party has not yet announced a candidate for the seat.

2.20 pm: The Kerala unit of the Congress has asked Rahul Gandhi to contest the upcoming elections from Wayanad but he has not yet commented on the proposal, PTI reports, quoting Congress leader Oommen Chandy.

1 pm: Ravi Shankar Prasad reacts to being made the candidate for Patna Sahib constituency, says, “Patna is my city. Even though I had been working on national level, I’ve an emotional connection with Patna. I’m grateful to the party.”

Also read: NDA names 39 candidates in Bihar, fields Ravi Shankar Prasad from Shatrughan Sinha’s seat

12 pm: Patna Sahib MP Shatrughan Sinha will not contest the election from his constituency this time. The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from the seat.

11.59 am: Lok Janshakti Party’s Chirag Paswan will contest from Jamui, Union minister Radha Mohan Singh of the BJP from East Champaran, and BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy from Saran.

11.52 am: The NDA had announced its seat-sharing arrangement for Bihar in December. The BJP and the Janata Dal (United) had decided to contest the Lok Sabha polls in 17 constituencies each. The Lok Janshakti Party was allocated six seats.

The alliance has now named its candidates for 39 seats. The candidate for the 40th seat, Khagaria, will be from the Lok Janshakti Party and will be named in a few days, says BJP General Secretary Bhupendra Yadav while announcing the names.

11.51 am: Union minister Giriraj Singh of the BJP will contest from Begusarai and Ravi Shankar Prasad from Patna Sahib.

11.29 am: The National Democratic Alliance announces names of candidates for 39 of the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar.

10.50 am: The Assam unit of National People’s Party declares its first list of five candidates, reports ANI.

10.48 am: A surveillance team of the Election Commission recovers Rs 27 lakh in cash from a car during checking on the Dehradun-Rishikesh highway in Uttarakhand, reports ANI.

10.02 am: Danish Ali, who joined the Bahujan Samaj Party last week, will contest the election from Amroha in Uttar Pradesh, according to The Indian Express. The party named 11 candidates on Friday.

Ali had left the Janata Dal (Secular) on March 16. JD(S) leader and Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had then said Ali had joined the BSP with his consent “in a purely political arrangement between the two parties”.

10 am: On Friday, the Indian Statistical Institute submitted a report to the Election Commission on the number of paper trail machine slips that should be matched with EVM results to enhance voters’ confidence, reports PTI.

9.55 am: The Congress released its seventh list of candidates early on Saturday. The list has 35 candidates. The party left one seat in Jammu and Kashmir for the National Conference.

Also read: Raj Babbar and Renuka Chowdhury on Congress’ seventh list

9.50 am: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will launch his party’s Lok Sabha campaign in West Bengal on Saturday. Before that, he will be in Purnea in Bihar to address the “Jan Bhawna Rally” at 12.30 pm, his party said.

9.35 am: The Bharatiya Janata Party has released its third list of candidates with 36 names. The party had earlier named 184 candidates in its first list and one in the second on Thursday. Party spokesperson Sambit Patra is on the latest list, and he will contest the election from Odisha’s Puri constituency.

9.30 am: Here are the top updates from Friday.

  • A report in The Caravan alleged that central BJP leaders, judges and advocates were paid more than Rs 1,800 crore by Karnataka state chief BS Yeddyurappa. The Congress sought an independent inquiry into the allegations. Yeddyurappa claimed the allegations were false and threatened to file a defamation case.
  • The BJP’s Central Election Committee, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, met at the party headquarters in Delhi to decide on the next list of candidates. The list was released in the early hours of Saturday.
  • The Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal announced their seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar. While Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD will contest in 20 seats, Congress will field candidates in nine and alliance partner Rashtriya Lok Samta Party in five.
  • Former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed the Opposition insults security forces time and again, in response to Indian Overseas Congress chief Sam Pitroda’s comments on the Balakot air strike. The prime minister said the Opposition is the “natural habitat of terror apologists” and those who question armed forces.