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A panel set up by the Election Commission has not found any violations of the Model Code of Conduct in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of the successful test of an anti-satellite missile on Wednesday.
On Friday, Modi referred to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu as “U-turn babu” and criticised his decision to quit the National Democratic Alliance last year. Modi was addressing a rally in Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh.
10.42 pm: Here are the day’s top developments.
- The Election Commission did not find any violations of the Model Code of Conduct in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of the successful test of an anti-satellite missile on Wednesday.
- Congress President Rahul Gandhi told PTI news agency that he had not ruled out contesting the Lok Sabha elections from a second seat other than Amethi.
- Congress leader SP Muddahanumegowda withdrew his nomination to contest the Lok Sabha election from Tumkur constituency, days after he had defied his party’s decision to cede the seat to alliance partner Janata Dal (Secular). The Janata Dal (Secular) has fielded former Prime Minister HD Devegowda from the constituency.
- Congress leader Hardik Patel will not be able to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections as the Gujarat High Court rejected his plea to stay his conviction in a 2015 rioting case.
- The Congress named actor Urmila Matondkar its candidate from the Mumbai North seat, two days after she joined the party.
10.13 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi promises to scrap the NITI Aayog if his party is voted to power, and replace it with a Planning Commission with fewer than 100 staff members. The NITI Aayog has “served no purpose other than making marketing presentations for the PM & fudging data”, he claims.
10 pm: The panel, headed by Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena, says that it was told by officials from public broadcaster Doordarshan that the telecast of Modi’s speech was not live and was sourced from ANI news agency. Officials of All India Radio told the panel that the radio channel had used Doordarshan’s audio output, and no production activity was involved from its side.
The panel says these submissions showed that Para (IV) of Part VII of the Model Code of Conduct had not been violated. The paragraph prohibits advertisements at the cost of the public exchequer to further the prospects of the party in power.
9.50 pm: A panel set up by the Election Commission has not found any violation of the Model Code of Conduct in the televised speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday to announce Mission Shakti.
9.13 pm: The Election Commission allows NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar to reply to its notice by the evening of April 2. He had sought time to reply by April 5 as he was out of the country.
The Election Commission had on Tuesday issued a notice to Kumar seeking an explanation for his comments against the Congress’ minimum income guarantee scheme. He had been asked to respond within two days.
Kumar had claimed the Congress was “promising the moon to win elections”. The income guarantee scheme will “bust fiscal balance”, Kumar had tweeted.
9.11 pm: Congress names three more candidates for the parliamentary elections – two for Himachal Pradesh and one for Gujarat.
9.09 pm: The Aam Aadmi Party plans to release its manifesto by the end of April, party leader Gopal Rai says, according to PTI. The manifesto will focus on women safety, health and education, he says.
Delhi will vote in the Lok Sabha elections on May 12.
8.10 pm: Rahul Gandhi says in Haryana’s Karnal that Modi refers to voters as “mitron” (friends), but businessmen Anil Ambani and Mehul Choksi as “bhai” (brother). “They take money from friends and give it to brothers,” Gandhi alleges according to ANI.
8.04 pm: Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athawale says his party wanted him to contest from the Mumbai North-East constituency, but the BJP has not yet given a positive response, ANI reports. He says the BJP and Shiv Sena have differences over where he should contest from.
8 pm: Former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar has been booked for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct, PTI reports. Kumar is a Communist Party of India candidate from Bihar’s Begusarai constituency. Mansur Chak Block Development Officer Shatrughan Rajak has filed a first information report alleging that Kumar addressed a public meeting in a village on Thursday without obtaining permission, the police say.
7.55 pm: The Congress has fielded Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s Vaibhav Gehlot against Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in Jodhpur, PTI reports. BJP leader Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra Singh will contest on a Congress ticket from Barmer. Jaswant Singh, who was a Union minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, has been in coma since 2014.
7.32 pm: Nishad Party chief Sanjay Nishad says the party will not be a part of the grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh, ANI reports. “Akhilesh Yadav had said he’ll make announcement on seats for our party,” he says. “But they didn’t put our name on poster/letter or anything. My party workers, authorities, core committee were upset.”
6.16 pm: Amethi is my “karmabhoomi” and will remain so, Rahul Gandhi tells PTI. The decision on whether he will contest more than one seat will be taken by the party soon, he says.
6.15 pm: It is up to Priyanka Gandhi to decide if she wants to contest the elections or not, her brother and Congress President Rahul Gandhi tells PTI.
5.59 pm: The Biju Janata Dal releases a list of 18 candidates for the Assembly elections in Odisha, ANI reports. The state elections will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections.
5.37 pm: The Aam Aadmi Party files a complaint with the Election Commission against remarks made by Narendra Modi in his interview with Republic TV on Friday. The party seeks action against the prime minister for violation of the code of conduct with his mention of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan in the interview.
Modi had said: “When the Abhinandan incident took place, all political parties should have said that they are proud of the armed forces that they shot down Pakistan’s F-16. But they began asking when Abhinandan will return.”
5.26 pm: In Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, Narendra Modi claims that Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu removed his Telugu Desam Party from the NDA when the “chowkidar” raised questions on corruption. Modi refers to Naidu as “U-turn babu”.
“Your vote will make the sun rise and the son set,” Modi says in Kurnool, also taking a dig at Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh, PTI reports. “Do you not want the sunrise of Andhra Pradesh? Should not the son set happen?” He claims he could have done a lot more work for Andhra Pradesh if the state government had cooperated. However, it was only interested in scams, Modi claims.
5.12 pm: The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation says paper cups with “Main Bhi Chowkidar” slogan printed on them used to serve tea on board trains have been withdrawn. The move came after a Twitter user shared a photo of a paper cup with the slogan printed on it on board the Kathgodam Shatabdi Express and claimed it violated the Model Code of Conduct.
5.10 pm: Congress leader SP Muddahanumegowda withdraws his nomination to contest the Lok Sabha election from Tumkur constituency, days after he had defied his party’s decision to cede the seat to alliance partner Janata Dal (Secular), ANI reports.
4.40 pm: The Congress’ Lok Sabha candidate in Tripura accuses ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of attacking Subal Bhowmik, its Lok Sabha candidate from the West Tripura constituency, PTI reports. The BJP has denied the charge.
4.34 pm: Rahul Gandhi says the manifesto will focus on jobs, agrarian distress, education, healthcare and economy, according to PTI.
4.32 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi tells PTI that his party’s manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections will not be one man’s views but will be the people’s voice.
4.28 pm: The Communist Party of India releases its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections, PTI reports. Its promises include a minimum pension of Rs 9,000 per month, full statehood to Delhi and Puducherry as well as a one-time loan waiver for farmers and a separate budget for agriculture.
4.25 pm: BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra files his nomination for the Puri Lok Sabha seat in Odisha.
4.24 pm: The Tamil Nadu government approaches the Madras High Court asking it to place a gag order on the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to restrain it from using the Kodanadu Estate case as a topic during election campaigning, ANI reports. The court has asked DMK chief MK Stalin to reply in the matter by April 3.
Unidentified men had killed a security guard during a robbery attempt at the Kodanadu estate four months after Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016. Two months later, an accountant working at the estate was found dead at his house in Kotagiri. Earlier this year, some journalists had released a documentary linking Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami with the break-in.
4.07 pm: Congress leader Hardik Patel will not contest the Lok Sabha elections as the Gujarat High Court on Friday rejected to stay his conviction in a 2015 rioting case, ANI reports. According to the Representation of the People Act, 1951, he will not be able to contest polls.
A court in Gujarat’s Mehsana district had sentenced Hardik Patel and two of his aides to two years in jail last year in connection with a riots case during the Patel quota agitation in 2015. The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader was found guilty of vandalising Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Rishikesh Patel’s office. Soon after the verdict, all the convicts were granted bail.
4.02 pm: Director General of Police (Intelligence) AB Venkateswara Rao has been transferred and directed to report to the police headquarters in Andhra Pradesh, ANI reports. The state government had earlier this week cancelled the Election Commission’s initial transfer of the officer.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had on Wednesday said his government has moved the High Court against the Election Commission’s decision to transfer Rao and two other Indian Police Service officers – Kadapa Superintendent of Police Rahul Sharma and Srikakulam Superintendent of Police Venkata Ratnam. Naidu said the poll body had transferred the officials based on a “frivolous” complaint by the YSR Congress Party.
3.50 pm: Modi alleges Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao is the face of “dynastic and appeasement politics”.
3.45 pm: Modi says the Telangana government is not letting people of the state enjoy the benefits of the Ayushman Bharat scheme. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, which is the health insurance programme under Ayushman Bharat, was launched in September. It aims to provide health insurance cover of upto Rs 5 lakh to 500 million poor families. But some states such as West Bengal, Telangana, Odisha and Delhi have not adopted the scheme.
3.43 pm: “Reservations created a divide in the society and country,” Modi says. “Without interfering with the current reservation, we provided 10% reservation to the economically weaker section of the society.”
3.40 pm: Modi criticises K Chandrashekhar Rao for the delay in forming the government in Telangana. “In the last Assembly elections, you gave the verdict. But what has happened? The hastiness shown in conducting the elections was not shown in expanding the cabinet,” he says. “Three months to form government. Astrologers advised for early elections. Were same astrologers responsible for stalling the formation of cabinet?”
3.27 pm: The Congress has filed a complaint with the Election Commission against BJP’s Bangalore South candidate Tejasvi Surya for his statement on patriotism. At an event on March 22, Surya had claimed that people who are not with Modi are anti-India.
“All anti-India forces have united to stop Modi,” Surya had said in a tweet on March 22. “While Modi’s agenda is building a new and robust India, their agenda is to stop him. They have no positive agenda.” He had added: “If you are with Modi, you are with India. If you are not with Modi, then you are strengthening anti-India forces.”
3.23 pm: People of the country are “moving forward without any fear because ‘chowkidhar’ is alert,” Modi says, according to PTI. “Five years of NDA rule has seen no bomb blasts in the country, except in some pockets in Kashmir.”
3.23 pm: In Telangana, Modi says people should vote for a ‘Naya Bharat’, where the people of the state will also benefit, PTI reports.
3.21 pm: The prime minister, meanwhile, is addressing a rally in Telangana’s Mahababunagar.
3.20 pm: “I don’t lie like Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” says Rahul Gandhi.
3.19 pm: Rahul Gandhi criticises the government for allegedly not providing farm loan waivers. “Farmers work entire day but when they ask PM for farm loan waiver, Arun Jaitley ji says ‘we won’t do it, that isn’t our policy’,” ANI quotes Gandhi as saying. “When they make an insurance policy they take out money from your account without asking you and it goes into companies of Ambani-Adani.”
3.15 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi says he got the idea for the income guarantee scheme from Narendra Modi’s promise that each Indian will get Rs 15 lakh, the Hindustan Times reports. “I listened to Narendra Modi’s speech in which he promised to give Rs 15 lakh to every Indian,” Gandhi says at a rally in Haryana’s Yamunanagar. “He said it three-four times. I got the idea that money must go the bank accounts of the poor.”
3 pm: Meanwhile, Congress President Rahul Gandhi is addressing a rally in Haryana.
2.53 pm: Priyanka Gandhi says she asked people if Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits villages in Varanasi, his constituency. “I got reply ‘he does not visit’. I was surprised because his publicity is such that I thought he must have been doing something. He visited whole world and hugged everyone, but didn’t hug his own people,” she says, according to ANI.
2.52 pm: The government wants to shut down the MGNREGA scheme, Priyanka Gandhi says, according to PTI. She alleges that workers have not been paid for six months.
2.50 pm: Gandhi alleges that the prime minister went to several countries and hugged their leaders but not Indian commoners, according to NDTV.
2.48 pm: The BJP government’s politics seeks to keep people disempowered and negates them, Gandhi adds. “Don’t encourage politics based on lies,” the Hindustan Times quotes her as saying. “If you encourage politics based on lies, you are harming your own interests.”
She adds: “You have forgotten that the government is in your hands, not the political leaders. People should understand their power.”
2.46 pm: “I don’t think there has been a weaker government than the current one,” Priyanka Gandhi says, according to the Hindustan Times. “This government doesn’t have courage to hear your voice. It doesn’t go to villages because it doesn’t want to hear discordant voices...Because this government has failed to deliver on its promises.”
2.43 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ignored his own constituency, Priyanka Gandhi alleges in Faizabad. When urged to stand in the upcoming elections on Thursday, she was reported as joking, “Why not Varanasi?” Varanasi is the prime minister’s constituency.
2.42 pm: The BJP government only works for the benefit of industrialists and rich people, Gandhi says in Faizabad. “The BJP government is focused on making the rich richer,” she adds.
2.41 pm: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra says the Bharatiya Janata Party government is anti-farmers as well as anti-forces. She is speaking at a rally in Faizabad. “India’s farmers are drowning in debt,” Gandhi says, according to NDTV.
2.31 pm: Amit Shah claims that Mamata Banerjee is lying that refugees will be forced to leave India. “Let me assure refugees belonging to Sikh, Budhha and Hindu religion that they will not be removed and are safe here,” Shah says.
2.27 pm: Shah claims the West Bengal government has provided monthly allowance to imams and not priests. “Mamata has imposed Urdu language in schools,” he adds. He alleges that the Mamata Banerjee government allocated Rs 4,000 crore to Madrassas but much lesser for higher education.
2.25 pm: “Democracy has been smothered in Bengal,” says Amit Shah. “TMC is bound to lose in the upcoming elections. It has destroyed the culture and heritage of West Bengal.”
2.22 pm: “This election is very important for this nation but for West Bengal, it’s important for its identity,” ANI quotes Amit Shah as saying. “It will decide if there’ll be democracy here. The manner in which Mamata didi governed this state, they only worked towards destroying the culture of Bengal.”
2.17 pm: BJP President Amit Shah address a rally at Alipurduar in West Bengal.
2.15 pm: Over 100 filmmakers issue a joint statement appealing to people to not vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The filmmakers say the mandate should be used to elect a government that “respects the Constitution of India, protects our freedom of speech and expression, and refrains from all kinds of censorship”.
2.06 pm: Congress releases another list of candidates – four from Assam and one from Uttar Pradesh – for the Lok Sabha election.
1.41 pm: The Election Commission tells the Supreme Court that the current method of random counting of the VVPAT slips from one polling booth per assembly segment is the most suitable, PTI reports. The Supreme Court is hearing a petition challenging the poll body’s decision to verify ballots cast at just one randomly selected booth in each constituency.
The Election Commission says the writ petition filed by 21 opposition leaders does not raise any ground or base for altering the existing system at this juncture.
1.29 pm: The BJP releases list of 11 candidates for seats in Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
12.35 pm: The Supreme Court issues notices to the Election Commission and the Centre on a contempt plea for violating its judgement directing candidates to declare their criminal history, PTI reports.
12.13 pm: The Rashtriya Janata Dal’s alliance with the Congress and smaller parties in Bihar is “unbreakable”, says Tejashwi Yadav, according to News18. “The alliance is unbreakable, it is an alliance of the hearts of the people. It is a fight to save democracy.”
Yadav announced the seat-sharing deal at a press conference on Friday. According to it, the RJD will contest in 19 seats, the Congress from nine seats, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party from five seats. The Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and the Vikassheel Insan Party get three seats each, while the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) will contest from one seat.
12.06 pm: The Biju Janata Dal does not care about the poor and is only interested in politics, Modi adds. “They don’t care whether the poor and the farmers are looked after,” Modi says. “It does not matter to the Naveen Patnaik government and the Congress whether the poor and the farmers are benefitting.”
12.04 pm: In Odisha, both Assembly as well as Lok Sabha Elections are scheduled to be held in four phases on April 11, April 18, April 23 and April 29.
12.03 pm: Modi alleges that the Biju Janata Dal government has not co-operated with the Centre for several other welfare measures, which is a loss for people. “PM Kisan Yojana is providing financial assistance to the farmers. However, Odisha govt hasn’t provided us with the list of eligible farmers,” he says.
Similarly, out of Rs 6,500 crore accumulated under the District Mineral Fund, the state government has only spent Rs 1,000 crore for the poor tribals, he alleges.
12 pm: Modi criticises the ruling Biju Janata Dal for not signing up for Ayushman Bharat. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana, which is the health insurance programme under Ayushman Bharat, was launched in September.
“The Odisha government refused to be part of Ayushman Yojana and thus deprived the poor of their right for quality healthcare,” Modi says. “In India, 1.5 lakh wellness centres are being built, mothers and infants are being vaccinated. However, people of Odisha aren’t able to make the most of them.”
11.54 am: Modi says the NDA government has built homes for 8 lakh families in Odisha, provided electricity to 3,000 homes and gas connections to 40 lakh homes.
11.50 am: Modi asks if people who are corrupt can make the state strong.
11.45 am: “This is the right time to punish the Congress and BJD who were given ample time in Odisha to develop the region. However, they have failed miserably,” adds Modi.
11.43 am: Modi continues to criticise the Opposition for questioning the IAF strike against Pakistan in Balakot last month. “You believe in the army’s might but these people ask for proof when we take action against terrorist,” News18 quotes Modi as saying.
“It has been one month, Pakistan is still counting the dead bodies and our rivals are seeking proof for Balakot strike,” Modi says, according to ANI. “When India takes action against terrorists, enters their home and kills them then some here ask for proof.”
11.42 am: Referring to the Mission Shakti, Modi says India has gained the ability to do “chowkidaari in space” now.
11.41 am: “It’s time to give an apt answer to people who are insulting the capabilities of our scientists and the armed forces,” says Narendra Modi at a rally in Odisha.
11.40 am: Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav says Sharad Yadav will contest from Madhepura, Sarfraz Alam from Araria and Misa Bharti from Pataliputra, ANI reports.
11.38 am: Modi asks people if they want a government that strengthens India or one that weakens the country. He is speaking at a rally in Odisha, where he is criticising the Opposition. “Do you want a government which attacks the enemy in the house or who run away from the battleground,” he asks. Do you want a government which makes decisions or which only raises slogans?”
11.36 am: In Bihar, the Rashtriya Janata Dal will contest from 19 seats, while the Congress will contest from nine and the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party from five seats, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav announces.
11.34 am: Modi says his government has undertaken work in all sectors, including roads and railways. “The government has transformed Odisha in the last five years,” he adds, according to News18.
11.31 am: “As a pradhan sevak, I have left no stone unturned in serving the people of the country,” Modi tells people at a public meeting in Odisha.
11.30 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting at Koraput in Odisha.
11.20 am: Congress releases a list of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Seven are from Odisha, four from Bihar and one from Uttar Pradesh.
11.19 am: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra meets supporters in Amethi. She is expected to hold a roadshow in Ayodhya later today.
11.17 am: The producers of the biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the Election Commission on Thursday that they have no link with the Bharatiya Janata Party, The Indian Express reports. The panel had issued the BJP and the makers of the film notices after receiving complaints seeking to delay the release of the film.
It is expected to be out on April 5, a week before the first phase of elections on April 11.
“The allegations made linking our client’s movie with a political party merely on a few public events, Facebook posts and tweets are not only false but have no basis in either fact and/or law,” said Hitesh Jain, the lawyer for producers Anand K Pandit, Sandeep Ssingh, Manish Acharya and Suresh Oberoi.
11.14 am: Congress leader Sanjay Jha claims Prime Minister Narendra Modi “sounds like a blonde”, an American stereotype often used to insult women and call them dumb. “He has white hair. But he sounds more like a blonde,” Jha says on Twitter. Several users on Twitter criticised him soon after for the sexist comment.
11.10 am: Formr Bihar Health Minister and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s elder son Tej Pratap Yadav on Thursday resigned as the patron of the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s student wing, the Chhatra RJD. He is reportedly upset that the party’s leadership has not given tickets to two of his nominees. The resignation is a further indication of trouble within the family and the party.
11.05 am: The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu criticises DMK chief MK Stalin for allegedly making “scandalous remarks” against the commission investigating the circumstances that led to the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, PTI reports. “In an election meeting held at Salem on March 22, 2019, Mr Stalin very openly attacked the propriety of the Justice Arumughaswamy Commission and also made various allegations, thereby attributing motives against, it,” the AIADMK said in a representation to the state Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo. “This kind of speech is clearly a violation of the model code of conduct.”
11.02 am: Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh questions why the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is hostile to him, according to PTI. “I have no dispute with the RSS,” he says. “If the RSS is an organisation of Hindus, Digvijaya Singh too is a Hindu. Then why this hostility?”
11 am: Actor Urmila Matondkar, who recently joined the Congress, is the party’s candidate for the Mumbai North Lok Sabha seat.
10.59 am: The Shiv Sena is set to contest 15 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, PTI reports. This is a first for the party, which is a constituent of the BJP-led NDA. “Today we announced candidates for 11 seats,” the party’s state general secretary Ashok Sarkar says. “Within a few days, we will declare candidates in four more seats. The BJP leadership in Bengal can never fight the TMC. That is why Shiv Sena has entered the fray.”
“All the tainted leaders of the TMC have joined the BJP making it an extended part of the ruling party,” he adds.
10.52 am: The general secretary of the West Bengal unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Surya Kanta Mishra, claims the Trinamool Congress is the “Trojan horse of BJP” in the Opposition camp, PTI reports.
“The purpose is to defeat the BJP and the TMC and maximize anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes,” Mishra says, adding that the Congress and the CPI(M) must not find fault with each other. The two parties had tried to form a seat-sharing deal in the state but failed to do so. “The call is very clear – if you see that a Congress candidate can defeat the TMC and the BJP nominees in your constituency, then you vote for the Congress,” Mishra adds. “But if you feel that the Left can defeat the TMC and the BJP candidates [in a certain seat], then vote for the Left.”
10.49 am: Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi says the Opposition’s anti-BJP grand alliance has not taken the desired shape because Congress chief Rahul Gandhi did not override the sentiments of local leaders, PTI reports. “Rahul Gandhi was keen on alliance most of the time,” he says. “But the local party leaders said no. Our party gives importance to regional leadership. That is why we have not been able to form alliances in many places.”
Gogoi adds that the Congress, which is often criticised for being a dynastic party, is the most democratic party.
10.40 am: “The people of the country have made up their minds, they want a government with an absolute majority,” Narendra Modi adds in the interview to Republic Bharat. “People have seen 30 years of instability and they want stability now. The mahagathbandhan is more scattered today as compared to 2014.”
9.50 am: Modi says the mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance is more scattered when compared to 2014. “As a responsible citizen, as a responsible political party, as a responsible PM, I will work with everyone together. Be it Congress or Mayawati or Mamata Banerjee,” he says.
9.45 am: The prime minister says dynasty is dangerous for a democracy. On the Congress, Modi says four generations of the same family have spoken on eradicating poverty. “So who will trust their words?” asks Modi.
9.39 am: Modi says previous governments used defence deals as their ATMs. “They could not imagine that deals can be done with transparency,” he says. “I have got Christian Michel, he is sitting in jail and revealing details,” says Modi. “The law is taking its course.” Michel is accused in an alleged scam in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal.
9.35 am: Modi says his government made a law for the fugitives, “wherever in the world they hide, their money can be confiscated”. He says properties worth Rs 14,000 crore belonging to businessman Vijay Mallya have been seized, even though total liability against him stands at Rs 9,000 crore.
“All the cheats are waiting for the government to change so that they come back,” Modi says.
9.30 am: “Pakistan has always assured that they will take decisive action, but they don’t,” Modi says, according to Republic. “I do not want to fall into their trap now.”
9.27 am: On Balakot air strike, Modi says he was constantly involved. “There is no expectation from their [jawans] end, but I could not sleep and I was aware of what was happening,” he says. “No one can question my patriotism for my country...Our fight is not with people of Pakistan, our fight is with terrorism.”
9.14 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an interview to Republic Bharat says a lot of “global planning” is needed before an event like the ASAT test. On the question of if he violated the Model Code of Conduct with the announcement about Mission Shakti, the prime minister adds the government cannot say it is not on duty just because elections are round the corner. The Election Commission has set up a committee of officers to examine the matter.
9.08 am: Delhi Police file first information report in connection with a tweet questioning the ingredients of the indelible ink used to mark voters, reports PTI. The FIR was registered on Wednesday. The Election Commission had asked Twitter to remove the misleading tweet on Tuesday.
9 am: BJP legislator from Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh, Dilip Singh Parihar, arrested for violating Model Code of Conduct, reports ANI. The Election Commission had warned Parihar during the state Assembly elections in December for violating the poll code, reports The Times of India.
8.50 am: The Election Commission allots gift pack as the election symbol to Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam to contest Lok Sabha and state elections, reports ANI.
The Supreme Court had earlier this week refused to direct the poll body to issue pressure cooker as the common election symbol to the unregistered outfit led by TTV Dhinakaran.
8.47 am: Telangana Chief Electoral Officer says ballot paper will be used for voting in Nizamabad constituency as 185 contestants are in the fray, reports ANI. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter, Kalvakuntla Kavitha, is seeking a re-election from the seat. At least 178 farmers are contesting as independents to highlight their demand for remunerative price for their crop, reports Hindustan Times.
8.30 am: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is expected to hold a roadshow in Ayodhya later today. When urged to stand in the upcoming elections on Thursday, she was reported as joking, “Why not Varanasi?”, according to IANS.
Varanasi is the prime minister’s constituency.
8.25 am: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu claimed the Election Commission acted swiftly on YS Jaganmohan Reddy complaint by transferring three Indian Police Service officers. “When we are complaining, no action,” Naidu says, according to ANI. “They’re delaying. Even as CM, I don’t have any say even to do good for people or fair elections.”
Naidu on Wednesday said his government has moved the High Court against the poll body’s decision to transfer the three officers based on a “frivolous” complaint by the YSR Congress Party
8.20 am: The Congress released a list of 31 candidates for seats in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s son, Vaibhav Gehlot, has been fielded from Jodhpur, while former BJP leader Jaswant Singh’s son, Manvendra Singh, will contest from Barmer.
8.15 am: Here are the top updates from Thursday:
- The Election Commission is likely to decide on Friday whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s televised address on Mission Shakti violated the Model Code of Conduct.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed rallies in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, Akhnoor in Jammu and Rudrapur in Uttarakhand.
- The Congress asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to apologise to the people of the country for comparing Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh to “sharab” or alcohol.
- The National Commission for Women on Thursday issued a notice to Samajwadi Party leader Firoz Khan for allegedly making sexist statements against former party MP Jaya Prada.
- Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the NYAY scheme will “remonetise the economy that has been demonetised” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies.
- Rebel BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha to join Congress on April 6.