11 pm: Here are the day’s top developments.

  • Congress promised Rs 72,000 a year for the poor as part of its minimum income scheme. The scheme, which the Congress promised to launch if it comes to power, will be called ‘Nyoonatam Aay Yojana’
  • Arun Jaitley called it a bluff, while other BJP leaders alleged that the Congress was showing a “false dream” to the country.
  • The Supreme Court asked the Election Commission if it can increase the number of VVPAT machines, and told it to file an affidavit on whether they can increase the sample survey from one voting station in each Assembly segment in the polls.
  • Om Prakash Rajbhar of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party gave the Bharatiya Janata Party 24 hours to decide on the number of seats his party will contest as part of the alliance in the Lok Sabha polls.
  • Milind Deora replaced Sanjay Nirupam as the chief of the Mumbai Congress, amid reports of infighting. Nirupam was made the candidate for the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency earlier in the day.
  • The Congress urged the EC to stop the release of the biopic on Narendra Modi ahead of elections, said the film was politically motivated.
  • In Karnataka, former Prime Minister HD Devegowda filed his nomination for the Tumkur Lok Sabha constituency despite fissures in the coalition in the state.
  • In Tamil Nadu, actor Kamal Haasan said he will not contest polls and will only work for his candidates. He met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee later in the day to talk about a non-BJP, non-Congress alliance in the country.

10.45 pm: A Congress delegation meets Election Commission officials to seek the stalling of the release of a biopic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, PTI reports. The Opposition party claims the content, timing and motive of the film PM Narendra Modi is political.

10.04 pm: The BJP asks whether Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi will “say sorry” when she visits Ayodhya, for her party’s “hurdles” in building the Ram temple. “Will Priyanka Gandhi Vadra take the pious Saryu river waters in her hand there and atone the sins committed by the Congress in Ayodhya?” PTI quotes BJP spokesperson Chandrmohan as saying.

Priyanka Gandhi will visit Ayodhya on Wednesday.

9.47 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh praises the Congress’ promise of a minimum income scheme, and calls it “path-breaking”, PTI reports. “The Congress is completely focused on constructive policies in sharp contrast to the BJP’s destructive and disruptive game-plan for the Lok Sabha elections,” Singh says.

“With one stroke, Rahul has brought hope into the lives of the country’s poorest of the poor and exposed the Narendra Modi government’s failure to reach out to the 250 million people who would benefit from the Congress president’s proposed minimum income guarantee scheme, which is a path-breaking initiative,” he says.

9.43 pm: The BJP’s Delhi unit submits a memorandum to the chief electoral officer, accusing the ruling Aam Aadmi Party of violating the model code of conduct by preparing letters addressing consumers of the Delhi Jal Board, reports PTI.

The letters, which use an official letterhead, outline AAP’s achievements in Delhi in the last four years and will be distributed along with water bills, the BJP says. “This is misuse of government money, government building and government machinery,” the party said.

9.38 pm: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi says her party’s promised income scheme will be a “huge assault on poverty”. “Justice to all, dignity to all,” she tweets.

9.26 pm: Congress releases its 11th list of candidates, with five names – two each from Chhattisgarh and Goa, and one from Daman and Diu. The party had released its 10th list earlier in the day.

9.20 pm: Union minister and BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan says that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, like Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and N Chandrababu Naidu, also wants a “helpless government” at the Centre, PTI reports. Patnaik had on Sunday said his Biju Janata Dal will play a decisive role in the formation of the next government at the Centre.

9.15 pm: Maharashtra Congress leader Ranjitsinh Naik-Nimbalkar Monday joins the BJP, reports PTI. He was the Congress’ Satara district president.

8.41 pm: BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan claims Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik is a part of the “Majboor Sarkar” club comprising leaders such as Rahul Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee. “Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati, Chandrababu Naidu and Mamata Banerjee want a ‘Majboor’ [helpless] government at the Centre,” Pradhan says, according to PTI. “Patnaik also wants a similar government.”

8.35 pm: The Bharatiya Janata Party asks Election Commission to stop Mohammad Akbar Lone, the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference’s candidate from Baramulla, from contesting the Lok Sabha elections, allegedly because he raised “pro-Pakistan slogans” at a rally, PTI reports.

“We demand that he should be booked under charges of sedition and Farooq Abdullah should tender an apology and clear NC’s stand over it”, the BJP said, adding that Lone raised “Pakistan Zindabad” slogans.

8.31 pm: The Samajwadi Party suggests that reports of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi contesting from another seat, most probably from southern India, suggests that the party is weak in Uttar Pradesh. “We have heard that Congress president, apart from his seat of Amethi in UP would also contest election in other states such as Karnataka or Kerala,” SP vice-president Kiranmoy Nanda says, according to PTI. “This shows the real picture of Congress’s organisational strength in Uttar Pradesh.”

8.28 pm: The Communist Party of India writes to the Election Commission asking it to improve the printing quality of its election symbol of a corn and sickle, PTI reports. “The Election Commission was continuing to use the same hand drawn image since 1952 and we request that it be replaced with the digitally drawn image of the same ‘corn and sickle’ symbol,” a letter written by the party’s General Secretary S Sudhakar Reddy says.

8.25 pm: Sachin Pilot adds: “There is a proposal to have Rahul Gandhi contest from another seat. That does not show that he is a weak leader or is not confident of victory. Even Indira Gandhi had fought from two seats.”

8.24 pm: Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot says Congress President Rahul Gandhi will again fight from Amethi and predicts that he will win by a huge margin. “His opponent had earlier lost to him and will lose again,” Pilot says, referring to the BJP’s Smriti Irani, according to India Today.

8.20 pm: Congress leader and Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot says alliance partners will pick the country’s next prime minister. “If the Congress comes to power, Rahul Gandhi can be the next prime minister of India,” Pilot tells India Today. “However, Rahul Gandhi becoming the next prime minister, if the Congress wins, also depends on what the alliance partners decide upon.”

8 pm: Union Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley claims the Congress’ promise to provide an income support of Rs 72,000 per annum to the poorest 20% families of the country is a “bluff announcement”. He says the party has left behind a ‘legacy of poverty’ despite being in power for much of the time since Indira Gandhi’s ‘Garibi Hatao’ slogan in the 1970s.

Also read: NYAY: What we know about Rahul Gandhi’s Rs 6000 per month income scheme for the poor

7.30 pm: The Congress releases its tenth list of candidates, with 25 names for West Bengal and one for Maharashtra. Sanjay Nirupam will contest the election from Mumbai North West. Milind Deora replaces Nirupam as the president of Mumbai Regional Congress Committee.

7 pm: The BJP’s Central Election Committee meeting is underway.

6.58 pm: Two candidates – BJP’s Nirupam Chakma and People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram’s TBC Lalvenchhunga – file their nominations for the lone Lok Sabha in Mizoram seat, PTI reports. The election will be conducted on April 11. Mizo National Front candidate C Lalrosanga, Zoram People’s Movement and Congress-sponsored Independent Lalnghinglova Hmar and two other Independents – Lalhriatrenga Chhangte and Lalthlamuani – had filed their papers last week.

6.56 pm: Two candidates file nomination for the Lok Sabha seat in Nagaland. The state sends only one member to the Lower House. The election will be held on April 11. Hayithung Tungoe of National People’s Party and MM Thromwa Konyak of Indian Christian Secular Party submitted their documents on Monday. The Congress’ KL Chishi and the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party’s Tokheho Yepthomi had already filed their papers on March 22.

6.52 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi will address two rallies in Sriganganagar and Bundi districts of Rajasthan on Tuesday, PTI reports. The state, which has 25 Lok Sabha seats, will vote in two phases on April 29 and May 6.

6.50 pm: The Congress’ minimum scheme will “bust fiscal discipline”, says Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar. “True to its past record of promising the moon to win elections, Congress President announces a scheme that will burst fiscal discipline, create strong incentives against work and which will never be implemented,” Kumar says in a tweet. It will ensure that the real needs of people remain unsatisfied, he adds.

Kumar adds: “Congress party promised #GaribiHatao in 1971, #OROP in 2008, #FoodSecurity in 2013 to win elections, but couldn’t fulfill any of those. The same unfortunate fate awaits the populist and opportunistic promise of #MinimumIncomeGuarantee.”

6.37 pm: BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad alleges the Congress is showing a “false dream” to the country with its minimum income guarantee scheme. “Today Rahul Gandhi announced Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme. Indira Gandhi had raised slogan of ‘Gareebi Hatao’ in 1971,” Prasad tells ANI. “We thought poverty had been removed but nothing happened. Rajiv Gandhi was PM, he said I send Re 1 from Delhi and only 15 paise reaches villages.”

“This showing of false dream to the people of India, is not going to cut any ice because the Congress record of 55 years has always been anti-poor,” Prasad adds.

6.03 pm: Indian cricketer Ashwin Ravichandran says Indian Premier League players must be allowed to cast their votes from wherever they are.

5.55 pm: Former Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Jharkhand unit president Annapaurna Devi joins the BJP, PTI reports.

5.48 pm: The BJP fields party’s state vice-president Pitamber Acharya against Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik from Hinjili seat, PTI reports.

5.18 pm: “I know when we took this decision it might have hurt the sitting MP from Tumkur, SP Muddahanumegowda,” says HD Devegowda. His decision to contest from the Tumkur Lok Sabha seat has created fissures in the coalition in the state, with incumbent Muddahanumegowda and another Congress leader, KN Rajanna, also filing their nominations from the seat.

Devegowda adds: “I don’t want to hurt him, Congress leaders conveyed everything to him...I chose to contest from Tumkur on the demand of many Congress and JD(S) leaders.”

5.16 pm: Former Prime Minister HD Devegowda says he decided to contest the elections after several Opposition leaders such as Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mamata Banerjee urged him to do so, according to ANI.

5.14 pm: Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi also alleges that the Modi government as well as the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government in the state have not fulfilled any promises and have failed on all fronts. “Our fight is not against the person Modi, but against his divisive, communal and economical policies,” PTI quotes Gogoi as saying. “This election is a big challenge for democracy.”

5.12 pm: Tarun Gogoi also criticises BJP leader Ram Madhav for saying the Congress may win an election in Pakistan if it contests from there. “It was Modi who wrote a love letter to Pakistan Prime Minister,” Gogoi says. “He went to eat biryani and enjoyed birthday there, but accusing us.”

Gogoi adds: “It was Congress government which bifurcated Pakistan and created two nations. These comments by BJP are nothing but just an attempt to deviate public attention from the real issues – jobs crisis, farmers distress, corruption and deposit of Rs 15 lakh in our accounts.”

5.10 pm: Congress leader and former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi criticises PM Narendra Modi for allegedly neglecting senior leaders in the Bharatiya Janata Party, ANI reports. Several reports have said that leaders who are over 80 years have not been given tickets to contest the Lok Sabha elections this year.

“Advani had huge contribution in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government coming to power, but today he is neglected in his own party in a very pathetic way,” Gogoi says. BJP chief Amit Shah is set to contest from Advani’s constituency, Gandhinagar. “Not only him, but the entire old-guard like Arun Shourie and others are neglected. They are intelligent people and Modi does not like intelligent people around him,” Gogoi adds.

5.05 pm: Paralympian Deepa Malik, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party earlier in the day, says, “The work that PM Modi has done for women empowerment and his thoughts towards women, is evident. He has put women in leading portfolios, he has also worked extensively for the ‘divyangs’.”

5.04 pm: The Supreme Court refuses to hear a petition seeking that the Election Commission ban roadshows and bike rallies during polls, PTI reports. “We are not inclined to entertain this,” a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta say. The petitioners say such roadshows and rallies not only violate Election Commission rules but also damage the environment.

5 pm: Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan meets West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. After the meeting, he says he will campaign for the Trinamool Congress candidate in Andaman. “We are proud to say that Makkal Needhi Maiam is an ally of TMC in Andaman. We hope this relation evolves in future,” he says, according to ANI.

4.59 pm: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara says the Tumkur seat was conceded to the Janata Dal (Secular) on Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s suggestion.

4.58 pm: The BJP announces names of candidates for two Lok Sabha seats and 19 Assembly constituencies in Odisha, PTI reports. The state will vote in four phases from April 11 to April 29. Former Odisha Director General of Police and Director General (CRPF) Prakash Mishra is the BJP’s candidate from the parliamentary seat of Cuttack. Ex-MP Kharavela Swain will contest from Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat.

4.55 pm: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara says it is a historical day for Tumkur, hours after former Prime Minister HD Devegowda files his nomination for the Lok Sabha constituency. “One of the senior most leaders of the nation, who made Kannadigas proud, who was elected many times from Hassan and was also the CM, HD Devegowda, is contesting from here,” he says, according to ANI.

4.52 pm: Former Union minister Sukh Ram, who had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2017, moves back to the Congress. His grandson Aashray Sharma also joins Congress, ANI reports. They had met Rahul Gandhi earlier in the day.

4.45 pm: The Gujarat Congress condemned Vasava’s statement. “Such comments about our leader are extremely unfortunate,” Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi says, according to PTI. “This shows the true character of BJP and its leaders. They are making such statements out of frustration as they are seeing defeat in the Lok Sabha polls.”

4.43 pm: Gujarat Tribal Development Minister Ganpat Vasava asks Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to consume poison to check if he was an “avatar” of Hindu god Shiva. “People from the Congress claim Rahul Gandhi is an avatar of Lord Shiva,” Vasava says at an event in Surat’s Bardoli, according to PTI. “Now, since Lord Shiva used to consume poison to save people, I want Congress workers to make their leader drink 500 grams of poison. If he survives like Lord Shiva after consuming poison, we will all believe he is the true reincarnation of Lord Shiva.”

4.35 pm: Janata Dal (Secular) president and former Prime Minister HD Devegowda files his nomination for the Tumkur Lok Sabha constituency. He will contest the elections on April 18 on a joint Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress ticket.

4.30 pm: Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik files his nomination from the Bijepur Assembly constituency in Bargarh, ANI reports He had earlier filed his nomination from the Hinjili constituency as well.

4.28 pm: Some Congress leaders, including spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi will meet the Election Commission later on Monday over the release of a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ANI reports. PM Narendra Modi will be released on April 5, a week before the elections begin on April 11. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Nationalist Congress Party have already approached the poll panel seeking action.

4.25 pm: Paralympian Games winner Deepa Malik and Indian National Lok Dal’s Kehar Singh Rawat join the Bharatiya Janata Party, ANI reports.

4.15 pm: Nationalist Congress Party releases its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections.

3.50 pm: Sitting Mathura MP Hema Malini files nomination.

3.47 pm: After announcing the minimum income guarantee scheme, Rahul Gandhi tweets, “It is on this day that the Congress party launched its final assault on poverty...The time for change has come.”

3.40 pm: The Nationalist Congress Party releases list of star campaigners for Maharashtra. Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel and Supriya Sule feature on the list.

3.30 pm: Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Choudhary Ajit Singh files nomination from Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar seat, PTI reports. The BJP has fielded sitting MP Sanjeev Balyan from the seat, while the Congress has not announced any candidate.

2.50 pm: Karti Chidambaram, Congress candidate from Tamil Nadu’s Sivaganga seat, files nomination.

However, former Union minister EM Sudarsana Narchiappan, who was a contender for the Sivaganga Lok Sabha seat, opposes Karti Chidambaram’s nomination. “As far as I understand, people hate that entire family [P Chidambaram’s family] as they have not done any good for the Sivaganga constituency,” Natchiappan says.

P Chidambaram has won from Sivaganga seven times since 1984.

2.18 pm: “People have suffered in last five years. We will give justice to them,” Rahul Gandhi says. “We will wipe out poverty from the country.”

2.15 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi says poorest 20% of India will get Rs 72,000 annually under the minimum basic income guarantee scheme if his party comes to power. Gandhi says five crore families and 25 crore people will directly benefit from this scheme.

“All calculations have been done. There is no such scheme anywhere else in the world,” he tells reporters at a press conference. He had announced the scheme initially in January. The scheme will be called “Nyoontama Aay Yojana, or NYAY”, Gandhi said. The name means “minimum income scheme” in Hindi, while the acronym means “justice”.

1.58 pm: Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh says nine FIRs have been registered so far against the Aam Aadmi Party and four against the Bharatiya Janata Party for defacement of public property in the national Capital.

1.50 pm: The Congress announces that Sachin Chaudhary will contest from Amroha seat instead of Rashid Alvi. In its eight list released on March 24, the party had named Alvi as its candidate from the constituency.

1.30 pm: Mandya Independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh accuses the ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government in Karnataka of spying on her. “From the last one and half months, there are intelligence officers posted outside my house,” she tells News18 Kannada. “They are shadowing, spying. I even asked a couple of them what they are doing here.”

Sumalatha says she has complained to the Election Commission and asked them for security.

1.28 pm: All India Congress Committee General Secretary Harish Rawat files his nomination for Nainital in Uttarakhand, reports News18. Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, state party chief, files his nomination from Nanded Lok Sabha constituency.

1.25 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati hits out at the Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh over rising cane dues. “How can the UP sugarcane farmers be happy and prosperous when their dues amount to Rs 10 thousand crores?” she tweets. “This is a matter to ponder on. Anti-farmers and pro-capitalist BJP government should not make wrong claims. Why is BJP not acting tough against the mill owners like the BSP government did and clear all farmer dues?”

1.20 pm: BJP leader Hema Malini visits temple in Mathura before filing her nomination papers from the constituency. In 2014, the actor-turned-politician had defeated the Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary from Mathura.

1.15 pm: Union minister Nitin Gadkari files nomination from the Nagpur Lok Sabha seat. He had defeated Congress candidate Vilas Muttemwar in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. This year, the Congress has fielded Nana Patole from the seat. Kisan Congress chief Patole joined the Congress from the BJP in January 2018.

“This time, I will win with a bigger margin,” Gadkari says. “People have a good opinion of the work done by the Narendra Modi-led government in the last five years. Our government did more than (was promised in) the poll manifesto.”

1.11 pm: The Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka has returned the Bengaluru North constituency seat back to the Congress, The Hindu reported. The seat was one of the constituencies that Janata Dal (Secular) chief Deve Gowda was considering to contest from. However, after he decided to contest from Tumkur seat, the party was left with no suitable candidate for Bengaluru North constituency.

12.45 pm: Congress MP Muddahanume Gowda files his nomination in Tumakuru, where he will stand as an independent candidate against JD(S) veteran HD Deve Gowda, reports The New Indian Express. The move has caused tension in the Congress-JD(S) alliance in the state, as Tumakuru was among the seats agreed to be given to the JD(S).

12.40 pm: The Supreme Court on April 1 will hear a plea filed by 21 Opposition leaders against the use of voter verified paper trail, or VVPAT, during the General Elections, reports PTI.

12.30 pm: The Delhi Congress has left the final decision regarding an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party to Rahul Gandhi, reports PTI. With the Congress Working Committee meeting under way, there has been speculation that a decision will be made today regarding the alliance.

12.28 pm: Maharashtra Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday criticised the Nationalist Congress Party, calling it a “corruption-management company”. “We can se ethat 56 parties are coming together, but you do not need 56 parties, but a 56-inch chest to run the country,” Fadnavis said at a joint rally of the BJP and the Shiv Sena in Kolhapur, according to the Hindustan Times.

The rally was also attended by the Republican Party of India (Athawale) and Rashtriya Samaj Paksha.

12.10 pm: National Conference-Congress candidate from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah files nomination.

12.02 pm: The Congress Working Committee is underway. The party will discuss its manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The manifesto is expected to be released on April 2, reports the Hindustan Times. Besides, the party leaders are likely to decide if Rahul Gandhi will contest from a second seat. The party leaders are also likely to discuss possible alliances across the country.

11.54 am: The Supreme Court rejects a plea filed by a former Uttar Pradesh director general of police asking the Election Commission to ban roadshows and bike rallies during polls. “We are not inclined to entertain this,” says the bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepka Gupta.

11.42 am: Former Odisha Director General of Police and Director General (CRPF) Prakash Mishra is the BJP’s candidate from the parliamentary seat of Cuttack, reports ANI. He joined the saffron party on Sunday.

11.40 am: The BJP names party’s Meghalaya unit vice president Rikman G Momin its candidate for Tura parliamentary seat, reports PTI. The BJP is an ally of the NPP- led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government. “The BJP is a national party and it depends on the central election committee whether the party would field any candidate in the seats available,” party’s state unit president Shibun Lyngdoh tells PTI. Elections to the two parliamentary seats in Meghalaya will be held on April 11.

11 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi will meet leaders of the party’s Delhi unit later on Monday to discuss alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party, the Hindustan Times reports. Both parties have repeatedly said they are not interested in a tie-up, however, reports have leaders have been mediating talks.

10.45 am: Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav accuses the BJP of mistreating Dalits. “It is unfair to expect those whose parent organisation is the RSS, the world’s most casteist organisation, to practice equality,” he says.

10.16 am: In the backdrop of the BJP’s Main Bhi Chowkidar campagin, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra claims BJP ministers are “busy marketing t-shirts” instead of listening to the grievances of teachers in Uttar Pradesh. She says the “shiksha mitras”, or contractual teachers, of the state are humiliated everyday and many of them had killed themselves. Those teachers who protested were beaten up, she says.

“BJP’s ministers are busy marketing t-shirts, I wish they would pay attention to those who are facing struggles,” Vadra says.

Her comment comes a day after Narendra Modi tweeted about “Main Bhi Chowkidar” t-shirts.

10 am: Akbaruddin Owaisi of the AIMIM on Sunday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should also mention “Chowkidar” on his Aadhaar card and passport, not just Twitter. “[We] want a PM not a chaiwala, pakodewala...If Modi is interested, he should come to me, I will offer him a chowkidar’s cap and a whistle,” ANI quoted Owaisi as saying.

9.40 am: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Sunday claimed that if the Congress wins the upcoming elections “by mistake”, Pakistan will “celebrate Diwali”, reports PTI. “While this is not going to happen, but when the results [of the elections] are announced on May 23 and [if] the Congress wins by mistake, then Diwali will be celebrated in Pakistan because they [Congress] are all associated with it,” the report quoted him as saying.

9.32 am: Biju Janata Dal announces nine candidates for Assembly polls in Odisha, reports PTI. Assembly elections in the state is scheduled to be held along with the Lok Sabha polls in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.

9.27 am: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy says a few people in Congress tried to create “speed breakers” for candidates of his party, Janata Dal (Secular), reports ANI. “No matter how much they back stab my candidates, JD(S) workers and I won’t do the same,” he says. “Country is important for me.”

The Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress run a coalition government in Karnataka and will fight the Lok Sabha elections together.

8.52 am: BJP General Secretary says Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is a key person for the party in the Northeast and is even above Amit Shah for matters related to the region, reports PTI.

8.50 am: Actor turned politician Kamal Haasan says he will not contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, reports the Hindustan Times. “All candidates are my faces,” says Haasan. “I am proud being the chariot puller than being the chariot”.

Also read: Lok Sabha elections: Kamal Haasan will not contest polls, says he will work for his candidates

8.30 am: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman criticises the Opposition and Congress for politicising the Balakot air strike in Pakistan after the terror attack in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, reports PTI. The government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party gave freedom to the armed forces to act and they delivered, she said. “If only a similar deterrent action was taken after Mumbai attack... [and] I have enough reasons to believe that armed forces did tell the government at that time, ‘if you want us to do something, we are ready but we want you to take the call’,” she says at an event in Hyderabad on Sunday, according to ANI.

Read more here: Opposition questioning armed forces by asking government for proof of air strike, says Nirmala Sitharaman

8.22 am: Here are the top updates from Sunday:

  • Congress fielded former finance minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu. He is an accused in the INX Media money laundering case and the Aircel-Maxis scam. 
  • Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav will contest from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh. Party leader Azam Khan has been fielded from Rampur. 
  • BJP chief Amit Shah said the Opposition has no prime ministerial candidate. “No one is willing to fight the elections,” said Shah at a rally in Agra. 
  • Bharatiya Janata Party MP Subramanian Swamy on Sunday made a casteist comment when he said that he cannot be a chowkidar (watchman) because he was a Brahmin. 
  • Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday announced that she will contest from Anantnag seat in Jammu and Kashmir.