India’s General Elections are on from April 11 through May 19 over seven phases, with counting slated for May 23. For the full schedule click here, and to subscribe to our newsletter about the elections, click here.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Sunday hit out at the Modi government and alleged that the prime minister lied day in and day out. She claimed that Modi was not even suitable to be a block president.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, criticised the Congress and accused it of lying.
Congress announced that its President Rahul Gandhi will also contest the upcoming elections from Kerala’s Wayanad.
Here are the day’s updates:
9 pm: “Rahul Gandhi is feeling uncomfortable, insecure and helpless in Amethi,” says BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, according to PTI. “So he chose to contest Wayanad seat considering it as safe because of its ethnic profile.”
8.45 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath claims fear has forced Rahul Gandhi to contest from another Lok Sabha seat – Wayanad in Kerala.
8.36 pm: “Modi is creating problems for Kejriwal, Mamata and me because we work for people, people are ready to send you to Gujarat,” Naidu says, according to PTI.
8.29 pm: Naidu says Modi “betrayed the people of Andhra Pradesh” on special status and capital construction.
8.21 pm: Meanwhile, Chandrababu Naidu begins his address at the event in Visakhapatnam.
8.20 pm: “Who is Narendra Modi to ask about our PM candidate,” Banerjee asks. “Don’t worry, Mr Modi, We know what to do for the people. We know how to elect our leader. There will be somebody who will lead the country”
8.10 pm: Modi is not suitable to even be a block president, alleges Mamata Banerjee. “Modi is threatening every state, Karnataka, Odisha, West Bengal or Andhra Pradesh,” she says. “He is not chowkidar of people, but of rich, corrupt and scamsters. In his regime, lot of farmers committed suicide, unemployment increased. He doesn’t care about the media, he has not addressed any press conferences. He is a liar, he speaks lies day in and day out.”
8.07 pm: West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who is also present at the rally in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam, reiterates that the upcoming elections are important and urges the electorate to “vote carefully”, according to the Hindustan Times.
“If there is anybody who can take the country forward, it is Chandrababu Naidu,” Banerjee says. “If Naidu rules Andhra Pradesh, he can do a lot in Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal can develop Delhi, he can develop the country. There is no dearth of leaders to fight for the country. Modi has to be shown the door.”
8.01 pm: Arvind Kejriwal compares the BJP to a tumour. “Please save the country, save constitution, save democracy,” he says. “If you have a tumour, you will ask the doctor to cut the tumour. The BJP is like a tumour that will destroy the entire body. No need to worry about who will be the next PM. Our first duty is to defeat the BJP.”
7.59 pm: Kejriwal alleges that Modi has divided people in the name of religion and caste. “What Pakistan could not do in last 70 years, Modi had done in the last five years. He destroyed democratic institutions,” he adds.
7.58 pm: “In 2019, if Modi and Shah win, they will change the country’s constitution like Hitler did in Germany,” Kejriwa alleges, according to the Hindustan Times. “If the Modi-Shah duo win again, they will completely change the country into Hindu nation. BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj himself said this will be the last elections in the country. He said there would no elections till 2050.”
7.56 pm: Modi does not listen to officials, Kejriwal alleges. “He listens to only one person, Amit Shah,” the Delhi CM says. “He implemented demonetisation without consulting anybody. It was a big scam. Every businessman, middle class, poor suffered. He divided people in the name of religion, caste, creed.”
7.55 pm: Kejriwal adds that Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah have “destroyed the Indian democracy in the last five years. “Modi government is most corrupt in 70 years,” he says.
7.54 pm: India is facing an Emergency-like situation, Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal says at a rally in Andhra, according to the Hindustan Times. “The 2019 elections are both important for Andhra and the nation. Make Chandrababu Naidu CM again,” he says.
7.37 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Andhra’s N Chandrababu Naidu attend a rally in Andhra Pradesh
7.36 pm: Modi adds that India must focus on development instead of fighting with Pakistan. “We have wasted a lot of time on India-Pakistan tussle,” Modi says. “Let Pakistan suffer the consequences of its actions. It is time to focus on our development.”
7.35 pm: “We must be well aware of fake promises that several political parties are making these days,” Modi adds. “Therefore, I urge people to minutely examine everything some parties are saying,” He was purportedly referring to the Congress’ minimum income guarantee scheme.
7.30 pm: Modi accuses Congress of spreading several lies. “Congress’ lies are seasonal. When there were elections in Delhi, they came up with the topic of ‘intolerance’,” Modi says. “When there were elections in Bihar, their topic was – ‘Modi will take back all forms of reservations’. Then there was the concept of ‘award wapsi’,” he said.
7.21 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes several jabs at the Opposition at his Main bhi chowkidar event. “When I was made a prime ministerial candidate, there was a queue for the PM’s post in 2014. Many wanted to become prime minister,” he says. “The queue has got a bit longer now in 2019.”
7.20 pm: The BJP did nothing to stop Assam’s perennial problem of floods, says Assam Congress. “What has Modi done to solve the flood problem of Assam? You [BJP government] only organised ‘Namami Brahmaputra’ and ‘Namami Barak’ by bringing priests from Haridwar. Is that all for the flood problem?” Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Ripun Bora asks, according to PTI.
7.13 pm: Congress releases names of candidates for Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag and Kerala’s Vadakara parliamentary constituencies.
7.10 pm: “I have seen a strong leader in PM Modi,” Reddy adds. He says he has decided to join the BJP and has already met the state BJP president. “I am also trying to meet the National President. I hope the PM gets a second tenure.”
7.08 pm: “There are a lot of middlemen, there is no certainty if voice of the loyalists are reaching the leadership,” Sudhakara Reddy tells ANI. “Our soldiers died in Pulwama, in last few months there has been a change in party leaders’ attitude, levelling allegations and saying whatever comes to mind.”
7.07 pm: In his resignation letter to Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Sudhakara Reddy says the traditions and values of Congress party have changed contrary to its principles, according to PTI. “Money influence has increased during allocation of tickets in Telangana Assembly elections in 2018, MLC elections and also coming Lok Sabha elections,” he writes.“It is shocking to find that crores of rupees is being sought for allocation of tickets. This kind of commercialisation of ticket allocation in Indian National Congress forced me to consider leaving the party and I am rendering my resignation.”
7.05 pm: “I had been with Congress for last 40 years and faced humiliation at times,” Reddy tells ANI. “Yet I worked for party. We lost badly in Telangana in last elections due to failure of local leadership. Lok Sabha elections are being contested under same leaders.”
7 pm: Senior Congress leader in Telangana, Ponguleti Sudhakara Reddy Sunday, resigns from the party. He says he now wants to join the BJP.
6.43 pm: “I will not let anybody paw at the your money under my guard,” Modi says at the Main bhi Chowkidaar event, according to NDTV. “It is my responsibility as the chowkidar to make sure that the nation’s wealth is safe.”
6.40 pm: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani says Rahul Gandhi is fighting from two Lok Sabha seats “out of fear”, PTI reports. “It appears Rahul Gandhi has decided to contest from two [Lok Sabha] seats out of fear [of defeat in Amethi],” he says. “Smriti Irani will win.”
He adds: “I believe sentiments expressed by journalists in Gujarat that two Rajya Sabha seats will fall vacant is right.” Irani and BJP chief Amit Shah are Rajya Sabha MPs from Gujarat.
6.06 pm: Modi says some people have complained in foreign courts that Indian prisons are not fit to live in, purportedly referring to fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya. He asks, “How do such thieves expect to get a palace?” They will live in the same jail that housed Mahatma Gandhi, he says.
6 pm: Mission Shakti had nothing to do with the elections, Modi says.
5.48 pm: While answering a question about the IAF air strike at Balakot, Modi says, “I didn’t carry out the strikes, our armed forces did.”
5.46 pm: An election observer from the IPS cadre of Haryana fired nine rounds in the air from a constable’s gun in Tamil Nadu’s Ariyalur on Sunday, PTI reports. DIG Hemant Kalson was removed from duty soon after. State Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo has also filed an FIR against him.
5.43 pm: “If one were to focus on one’s political future, there was no need for Modi. For me, country is paramount,” Modi adds.
5.40 pm: Modi says his fame in 2014 was because of his critics, according to the Hindustan Times. “I was new in 2014. I had some identity as a chief minister,” he says at the “Main bhi Chowkidar” event. “My fame was mostly due to my critics. Their criticism created inquisitiveness about me. Around this time, the BJP made me its PM candidate. Against this backdrop in 2014, I had said I would be a chowkidar not the prime minister.”
5.15 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an event titled “Main bhi Chowkidar” in New Delhi. He is expected to speak to people from over 500 locations.
4.55 pm: The Naga People’s Front will support the Congress’ KL Chishi for the lone Lok Sabha seat in Nagaland, PTI reports. The Naga People’s Front is the main Opposition in the state Assembly. Nagaland will vote on April 11.
4.52 pm: Before leaving for Visakhapatnam, Banerjee told mediapersons in Kolkata that the Bharatiya Janata Party had taken over all premier institutions in the country. “The BJP government has taken control of all premier institutions in the country,” Banerjee said, PTI reports. “People here live in fear. They do not have the right to speak freely under an autocratic government.”
A “dictatorial government” is pulling the strings at the Centre with force and intimidation, “trampling democratic norms”, she added. “Disinvestment has been done in public sector companies. Some workers are not getting salaries. The lives of farmers and labourers are under threat under the current dispensation. I feel that everyone will come forward, keeping aside their petty interests to collectively vote against the Modi government.”
4.50 pm: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee reaches Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh to attend a Telugu Desam Party rally.
4.35 pm: Former Border Security Force constable Tej Bahadur Yadav says he will ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi if he fulfilled all the promises he had made in 2014. Yadav on Saturday announced that he will contest the election as an independent candidate in Varanasi, Modi’s parliamentary constituency. “It’s an equal fight, on one side you have ‘asli chowkidaar’ and on the other you have ‘nakli chowkidaar’,” Yadav adds.
Modi had said he will give status of martyrs to soldiers of paramilitary forces and will give them pension, Yadav says. “I will ask PM, ‘you had made promises, what all did you do till date? Tell us’.” The Border Security Force constable had in 2017 made videos of poor quality food served to troops. He was dismissed from the force after he had made the video.
4.13 pm: Shah adds that the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party coalition in Uttar Pradesh will not be able to defeat the BJP. “A different coalition has happened in UP, ‘bua-bhatija & dada’ have come together,” Shah says. “Isn’t Ajit Singh at an age where he should be a grandfather or a great-grandfather? They think they can defeat BJP, include Rahul baba and Priyanka Vadra too, you won’t be able to defeat BJP.”
4.10 pm: “Hindus can’t be terrorists,” says Amit Shah while speaking at a public meeting in Uttar Pradesh, according to the Hindustan Times. He was referring to the Samjhauta blast verdict.
3.35 pm: Rashtriya Janata Dal MLA Haji Subhan on Friday called Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar “sahab”, or sir, at a rally in Bihar’s Kishanganj, ANI reports. “China used its veto power to support Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar sahab,” Subhan says, according to the video. “Azhar was not included in the international terrorists list because of China. Can anyone tell me why Prime Minister Modi is not speaking against China?”
3.20 pm: The BJP announced the launch of a television channel named after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday. NaMo TV’s launch comes less than two weeks ahead of the General Elections. The channel will be available on major DTH platforms.
3.07 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah claims Gandhi has fled to Kerala because he will be defeated in Amethi this time. “I read on WhatsApp that Rahul Gandhi has run towards Kerala, leaving Amethi behind,” Shah says at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh. “Why has he escaped to Kerala? All of you know that this time Rahul Gandhi is done for in Amethi. So he is going to Kerala in a bid to win on the politics of polarisation.”
3.05 pm: Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury questions the Congress’ decision to field Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad in Kerala. He wonders about the message that the party is trying to convey.
1.40 pm: The Telugu Desam Party alleges that the Narendra Modi government was quick to take credit for the armed forces’ action against terrorists, but had failed to give them bullet proof vehicles which could have prevented the Pulwama attack, PTI reports. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurated bullet proof buses for the Central Reserve Police Force in September 2017, but the paramilitary force has not yet received them, says TDP spokesperson Dinkar Lanka.
1.15 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati claims BJP is supporting Bhim Army Chief Chandrasekhar Azad, who is contesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi. “To split the votes of Dalits and to benefit itself, the BJP has put up Chandrasekhar Azad to contest from Varanasi,” Mayawati tweets. “This group has been formed under a conspiracy and the BJP, through this, is playing its henious anti-Dalit politics.”
She appeals to the voters to remove the “arrogant, autocratic, casteist and communal BJP” from power. “First the BJP tried to send Chanddrasekhar in the BSP to spy but its conspiracy failed,” she says.
1.10 pm: BJP releases list of 4 candidates in Gujarat for Lok Sabha elections, and one candidate for bye-election to Talala Assembly constituency, ANI reports.
1 pm: Congress allots Sangli Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra to its ally Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, PTI reports. Vishal Patil, younger brother of former Congress MP Pratik Patil, will be fielded from Sangli. Pratik Patil and Vishal Patil aregrandsons of former Maharashtra chief minister late Vasantdada Patil.
12.35 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi, addressing a rally in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada, says his party will give special status to Andhra Pradesh if it is voted to power.
“[Former Prime Minister] Manmohan Singh committed to the state that we will give special status [in 2014],” he says. “We will give what Andhra Pradesh deserves. It wasn’t just an individual who committed but the prime minister of India who promised it. And it was the commitment of a prime minister on behalf of the nation.”
“Mr Modi has been prime minister for five years and he has not fulfilled this commitment,” Gandhi says. “Frankly I am surprised that parties in Andhra Pradesh are not aggressively pushing for Mr Modi to give Andhra what it has been promised.”
12.10 pm: Union minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey on Saturday reportedly threatened a government official after he was stopped for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct. Choubey is contesting from Buxar in Bihar. He was stopped by the official in Buxar after he held a public meeting beyond the permissible time limit set by the Election Commission, NDTV reports.
In a video tweeted by ANI, the minister is seen engaged in a heated argument with Sub Divisional Magistrate KK Upadhyay when his convoy was stopped.
The Model Code of Conduct has been in effect since March 10.
11.55 am: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan says Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from Wayanad is a fight against the Left front. “Gandhi is one among the 20 candidates and doesn’t need to be seen as any one different,” News18 quotes Vijayan as saying. “We will fight against him. If Wayanad is symbolic of south India, no one in Kerala is going to see this as Gandhi’s battle against the BJP. He should have contested from a constituency where a saffron party candidate is in fray.”
11.50 am: Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Prakash Karat says Congress’s decision to field Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad seat shows their priority now is to fight against Left in Kerala. “It goes against Congress’ national commitment to fight BJP, as in Kerala it is Left Democratic Front which is the main force fighting BJP there,” Karat tells ANI. “To pick a candidate like Rahul Gandhi against Left means that Congress is going to target the Left in Kerala. This is something which we will strongly oppose and in this election we will work to ensure the defeat of Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad.”
11.15 am: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah says he favours early Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, soon after the Lok Sabha elections are over on May 23. “We definitely have a window [after the Lok Sabha polls and before Amarnath Yatra],” Abdullah tells PTI in an interview. “It is possible to hold assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir over a three-to-five-week period. You can start with the last couple of phases of Parliament elections, if you like. Then you have the entire month of June to have elections.”
Amarnath Yatra starts from the first week of July.
11.05 am: Congress leader AK Antony says Rahul Gandhi will also contest from Wayanad seat in Kerala, besides the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh, ANI reports.
Commenting on reports that Gandhi has lost confidence in Amethi seat, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala says, “Why did Modi leave Gujarat and contest from Varanasi? Was he not confident in Gujarat? These are immature and childish comments. She [Smriti Irani] will once again suffer a loss.”
The BJP has fielded Irani from Congress bastion Amethi.
10.56 am: Narendra Modi will continue his “Main bhi Chowkidar” campaign by addressing the nation on Sunday through video conferencing, ANI reports. Booths have been set up at 500 locations.
The prime minister will simultaneously address an audience at the Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi at 5 pm. Around 5,000 people are expected to attend it.
10.40 am: Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit says there will be an official announcement on a possible alliance between the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi: “You will get to know about it in a matter of few hours, by this evening or by tomorrow,” she tells reporters.
10.20 am: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath will hold elections rallies in Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaziabad Lok Sabha constituencies.
10 am: Karnataka’s ruling coalition Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress will launch their joint campaign for the Lok Sabha elections in Bengaluru, NDTV reports. Congress President Rahul Gandhi and JD(S) founder HD Devegowda will address a mega rally in the city.
9.45 am: Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar has criticised Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, reminding him of the insults the Sena and the BJP had traded before forming an alliance for the Lok Sabha elections. Thackeray on Saturday had accompanied BJP President Amit Shah as he filed nomination papers for the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency.
“Seeking votes in the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj amounts to insulting the warrior king’s glorious legacy,” Pawari says on Twitter.
9.25 am: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu accuses Narendra Modi of resorting to lies in his public rallies. Naidu posts a series of tweets using hashtag #ModiIsAMistake, to hit back at the prime minister who referred to Telugu Desam Party president as “U-turn Babu” at an election rally on Friday.
“Mother India would have never thought that she would see a Prime Minister like you,” Naidu says on Twitter. “Are you not ashamed to act in favour of the culprit who has 12 criminal cases? Why are you rolling out the red carpet for him in your office?”
9.15 am: Criticising BJP leader Manoj Tiwari over is stand on full statehood to the national Capital, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked people to “throw him out” of their houses when Tiwari “comes asking for votes”, PTI reports. Last week, Tiwari, BJP’s Delhi unit president, had said there is no need for full statehood for carrying out development work in the city.
“Throw him out of your house when he comes to ask for your vote as now he says that full statehood cannot be granted to the national capital,” Kejriwal has said at a rally at Gokulpur Jan Sabha in New Delhi on Saturday.
He also attacks Narendra Modi, saying he had pitted Hindus against Muslims.
9.05 am: The Samajwadi Party has fielded its own candidate from the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat after the Nishad Party pulled out of the alliance of Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh, PTI reports.
9 am: A Bengaluru court has passed an injunction against 49 media houses as well as social media platforms from publishing defamatory content against BJP’s Bengaluru South candidate Tejasvi Surya. The BJP candidate had filed a suit in the civil city court after reports said there were allegations of sexual abuse against him.
8.55 am: Here are the top updates from Saturday:
- Tej Bahadur Yadav, the Border Security Force constable who in 2017 made videos of poor quality food served to troops, said on Saturday that he will contest the election against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi constituency.
- The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Bharatiya Janata Party criticised Congress MP Shashi Tharoor for a tweet about a visit to a fish market, in which he referred to himself as “squeamish”.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised the Opposition, saying they speak the language of terrorists. Modi was in Aalo in Arunachal Pradesh, addressing the first of his three public meetings of the day in the North East.
- Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah promised to replicate the National Register of Citizens in West Bengal if the party is voted is to power at the Centre in order to “smoke out infiltrators”.
- Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray mocked the Opposition for its lack of a clear prime ministerial choice in the Lok Sabha elections. Thackeray said his party had resolved its differences with the BJP.