11.10 pm: Here are the day’s top updates:

  • The Election Commission issued a notice to UP Chief Minister Adityanath for calling the Indian Army ‘Modiji ki Sena’.
  • Mamata Banerjee called PM Modi “expiry babu” and asked what he has done for the country’s poor.
  • Earlier in the day, Narendra Modi had claimed the West Bengal chief minister was pained by the IAF strikes in Balakot and also called her a “speed-breaker”.
  • Asaddudin Owaisi attacked Narendra Modi over his ‘no Hindu terrorists’ remark and asked: ‘Who was Nathuram Godse?’
  • Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said funds for his party’s NYAY scheme will come from the ‘pockets of chor businessmen’.
  • Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said PM Modi is an ‘utter flop’. He also denied reports that he had allied with either the Congress or the BJP, he said the people of Telangana were the party’s bosses.
  • Union Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman alleged that the promise in the Congress manifesto to amend AFSPA favours traitors and separatists.
  • BSP chief Mayawati said there was no difference between illusions in the Congress’ and BJP’s manifestos.
  • The Election Commission has sought a response from the Information & Broadcasting Ministry on the launch of NaMo TV. The poll panel also asked Doordarshan why it telecast Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Main bhi Chowkidar’ speech live on March 31.
  • The Congress accused the BJP of trying to bribe voters in Arunachal Pradesh. In Jammu and Kashmir, poll officials have sought the administration’s reply to Congress’ allegation that its leaders’ security was revoked.
  • Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal lived up to the promise of 33% representation and fielded seven women in Odisha. In Maharashtra, the BJP gave in to Shiv Sena and refused a ticket to sitting Mumbai MP Kirit Somaiya. In Gujarat, the Congress fielded CJ Chavda from Gandhinagar against BJP’s Amit Shah.

10.46 pm: The Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court declines to stay the release of PM Narendra Modi, a biopic starring Vivek Oberoi, reports News18. The Delhi and the Bombay High Courts had turned down petitions seeking to stay the release of the movie. The film is set to release on Friday.

9.55 pm: Election Commission issues notice to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for referring to the Indian Army as “Modiji ki sena” or Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s army at a rally in Uttar Pradesh.

Read more here: Election Commission issues notice to Adityanath for calling Indian Army ‘Modiji ki Sena’

9.38 pm: Union minister Rajnath Singh criticises the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party for hurting the morale of the armed forces by casting aspersions on the surgical strikes on terror camps in Pakistan, PTI reports. Singh claims the Congress-led government never took any retaliatory action when terrorists struck.

9.35 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati says the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government will not return to power at the Centre as its drama and rhetoric were not going to work in the elections, reports PTI. She was addressing an election campaign meeting in Vijayawada.

The BJP pursued RSS ideology, capitalist and “hatred- filled communal agenda”, which would make it lose power, she says. Mayawati says the main reason for Modi’s loss would be his failure to keep the promises he made before the 2014 elections.

9.28 pm: Dinesh Lal Yadav “Nirhua”, who is the BJP’s candidate against Akhilesh Yadav in Azamgarh, says people won’t cast their vote based on surnames, like Yadav. “If you contest on that, you’ll lose badly,” he says, according to ANI. “Today nation is thinking about other issues...We’ll have to rise above caste politics, people are understanding that.”

9.24 pm: The Nagpur Police in Maharashtra arrest People’s Republican Party leader Jaideep Kawade for allegedly making misogynistic remarks against Union minister and BJP leader Smriti Irani, reports PTI. Kawade was later released on bail. The People’s Republican Party is an ally of the Congress in Maharashtra.

9.18 pm: “When our government is trying to punish the urban Naxalites who are instigating the violence, how the leaders of the Congress and the NCP [Nationalist Congress Party] stand with them, you have seen,” he says, according to News18.

9.15 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the last five years have been spect rectifying the mistakes of the United Progressive Alliance government, reports The Indian Express. “Will you give chance to those who seek to scrap sedition law?” he asks the crowd in Gondia, Maharashtra. He says the Congress is destabilising India and creating confusion in the country. “Congress poll manifesto has insulted India’s soldiers,” he says.

9.12 pm: Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut says those facing serious charges such as sedition should not be allowed to enter the Parliament, reports PTI. “Cases of serious nature such as sedition are levelled only when there is enough information to prove grave wrongdoing,” he says.d “When the government takes such a stand against somebody, the Election Commission and Supreme Court should take cognisance and not allow such persons to enter Parliament at all.”

9.10 pm: Union minister Arun Jaitley alleges that Congress chief Rahul Gandhi made “sweetheart deals” with fly-by-night operators. “The scion aspires to be a Prime Minister,” Jaitley says on Twitter. “Such aspirants like Caesar’s wife must be beyond suspicion. They must be unsuspectable. With tainted hands, he must at least remember that ‘people in glass houses do not throw stones.’ The ‘Chowkidar’ has finally caught a ‘Chor.’”

9 pm: Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan terms Congress manifesto a “bunch of lies”, reports PTI. He says even former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru did not try to repeal the sedition law, which the Congress has now promised.

Chouhan calls Congress President Rahul Gandhi an “international liar”, saying that he makes false promises ahead of the elections.

8.55 pm: Congress announces candidates for six seats in Gujarat.

8.53 pm: Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi says Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a “chaiwala” or tea-seller during the 2014 elections and a “chowkidar” or watchman this time. “Now, people of the country will make him berojgar [jobless] after the elections,” he says at an election rallyy in Bokakhat. “Only then Modi will understand the plight of jobless youths.”

8.35 pm: Modi says people in Delhi are sitting in “air-conditioned rooms” and are saying that they have forgotten the Balakot strike, ANI reports. “You tell me, have you forgotten? We have still not forgotten 1962 war, how will we forget Balakot?” Modi asks.

8.34 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says Maoist will benefit if the Opposition’s “mahamilavat” (adulterated government) is voted to power. Modi was referring to the Opposition’s alliance known as the “grand alliance”. “Congress has already promised in manifesto that sedition case will not be imposed on any urban naxal,” ANI quotes Modi as saying.

7.35 pm: The BJP seeks action against Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct, reports PTI. Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, Vijender Gupta, files a complaint with the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer accusing Sisodia of sending lakhs of letters to Delhi voters without permission as per the Model Code of Conduct.

7.29 pm: The Supreme Court says it will hear the pleas challenging the validity of the scheme of electoral bonds for political funding on April 5, reports PTI. The bench tells advocate Prashant Bhushan, who is appearing for the petitioner Association for Democratic Reforms, that the matter would be heard by an appropriate bench on April 5.

The Association for Democratic Reforms recently filed an application in the court seeking a stay on the Electoral Bond Scheme which was notified by the Centre in January 2018.

Also read:

Electoral bonds worth Rs 1,716 crore already sold this year, Rs 1,057 crore in 2018: RTI

7.23 pm: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao claims Prime Minister Narendra Modi has turned out to be an “utter flop” despite his party winning a majority in the previous Lok Sabha elections, reports PTI.

“Definitely, a good government needs to come if good is to happen in this country,” Rao says in Andole during an election meeting. “We have seen both parties. We have seen Congress party and also BJP party. People had lot of hopes from Narendra Modi. But, he has also been an utter flop.”

7.19 pm: National Conference President Farooq Abdullah says India is not doing justice to the people of Kashmir and that it cannot suppress them with its military might, reports PTI. He says the Centre will have to return the people’s right guaranteed by the Constitution.

“Had it [India] done justice, we would not have seen the situation we are in,” he says while addressing a workers’ convention in Beerwah Assembly segment. “I want to tell [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi, do justice with our people. We do not seek anything else than our rights. We do not seek what is yours, but what is our right,” he says referring to the state’s special status.

7.11 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi says he will help resolve the Naga political crisis if the party forms a government at the Centre. “I will not give empty promises but will try to resolve the Naga political issue by working with all the stakeholders,” he says, according to News18.

The Centre signed a framework agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak Muivah) in 2015 and six Naga political groups joined the peace talks separately. For decades, the Naga rebel groups have been fighting for Nagalim or Greater Nagaland, envisioned as a sovereign territory comprising Nagaland and “all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas”, including parts of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar.

7.04 pm: The Congress will launch its campaign in western Uttar Pradesh with three public meetings in Bijnor, Saharanpur and Shamli on April 8, reports News18.

7.02 pm: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy accuses Centre of creating scarcity of helicopters in the state. “The BJP government at the centre has created a scarcity of helicopters so that we cannot reach more people in the state,” he says, according to PTI. “They have issued directions in this regard.”

6.58 pm: Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala says party president Rahul Gandhi will file his nomination for the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat at 11 am on Thursday, reports PTI. All India Congress Committee General Secretary in charge of Kerala, Mukul Wasnik, says Gandhi’s sister and party leader Priyanka Gandhi, will accompany him to Wayanad.

6.55 pm: The Supreme Court Wednesday allows Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri, against whom several cases are lodged in West Bengal, to approach the Calcutta High Court for anticipatory bail to enable them to participate in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, reports PTI.

The Supreme Court says its interim order of December 12 last year, in which it had said that coercive action should not be taken till the next date of hearing, will continue to operate until further orders.

6.52 pm: Union minister and BJP leader Maneka Gandhi terms Bahujan Samaj Party chief chief Mayawati as a “merchant of tickets”. Gandhi alleges Mayawati does not give party tickets to anyone without taking money, reports PTI.

“Mayawati does not spare her own partymen, then how will she spare the country and the state,” she says in Sultanpur, from where she is contesting. “She can’t do without [currency] notes. She does not give her party’s tickets to anyone without taking money. Mayawati is a saudaagar (merchant) of tickets.”

6.48 pm: Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav claims that Adityanath committed a sin by terming the Ardh Kumbh as Kumbh, reports PTI. “Adityanath is an incapable chief minister,” Yadav says at an election meeting in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh. “He committed a sin by terming Ardh Kumbh as Kumbh and tried to belie shastras, which say Kumbh is held in every 12 years.”

6.42 pm: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi says if voted to power, his party would allow qualified ex-serviceman lateral entry into civil services. “Our ex-servicemen are India’s pride [and] must be given the respect they deserve...The Central Armed Police Forces will be opened up to ex-Servicemen under the age of 40.”

6.34 pm: Congress announces candidates for one Lok Sabha seat and nine Assembly seats in Odisha.

6.16 pm: Two Samajwadi Party leaders – Ram Sakal Gurjar and Rajendra Singh – joins the BJP, reports PTI. Rashtriya Lok Samta Party leader Shivraj Singh, a close aide of party president Upendra Kushwaha, also joins the BJP, reports PTI.

6.12 pm: Rashtriya Lok Samta Party chief and former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha to contest from Karakat and Ujiarpur in Bihar, reports ANI.

6.10 pm: Kirit Somaiya, the sitting BJP MP from Mumbai North East seat, says he is happy that the party fielded Manoj Kotak from his seat, reports ANI. “We all will support him and ensure he wins,” he says. “Ultimately our aim is a second term for Modi ji. Responsibilities within party keep shifting, nothing new in it.”

6.06 pm: Shah says Rahul Gandhi is unable to digest the Balakot air strike. “His guru Sam Pitroda says that it is wrong to attack a country because of the actions of a few people,” he says, according to ANI. “Why so? Are they your brothers?”

6.02 pm: BJP President Amit Shah criticises Congress chief Rahul Gandhi during a campaign rally in Jammu and Kashmir. “In JNU, there were slogans that India will be cut into pieces and Rahul Gandhi goes to JNU and says that you have the right to freedom of speech,” says Shah. “Rahul Baba, abuse us and our party. But if anyone shouts anti-India slogans, we will continue to send them to jail.”

5.55 pm: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar says he will write to the state administration on Congress’ allegations that accommodation and security cover of its leaders in the state had been withdrawn, reports PTI. Kumar says he has informed the Election Commission.

5.52 pm: Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad criticises Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP for the deteriorating situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He says the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act could have been revoked from some districts as “conditions improved” during the United Progressive Alliance’s rule, reports PTI.

“What is the reason that the situation in Kashmir, which was improving till 2014, has gone so bad that we have returned to the 1990 situation?” Azad says while addressing a campaign rally in Kupwara district. “If there is one person responsible for it, he is Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

5.49 pm: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee says society cannot be divided based on religion, reports News18. “You will salute Amma and not say salaam to the Ami next door,” she says in Coochbehar. “This country cannot be divided. They want to feed you Dilli ka ladoo, first take care of Delhi, then come to Bengal,” she says in a veiled attack on Narendra Modi.

Read more here:

Mamata Banerjee calls PM Modi ‘expiry babu’, asks what he has done for the poor

5.45 pm: Shah says the National Conference, Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party have shown “step-motherly treatment” to Jammu, reports News18. “For the first time a mother-like behaviour has been done by Narendra Modi’s BJP government,” he says.

5.31 pm: Shah says Jammu and Kashmir is the “crown of Mother Bharat”. “BJP will not allow anyone to have it,” he says, according to News18.

5.28 pm: BJP chief Amit Shah says a government led by Narendra Mod will oust every infiltrator from the country while addressing a rally in Jammu and Kashmir’s Sunderbani, reports ANI. “Infiltrators are eating our country like termites,” he says. “They want to change demography of Jammu. As long as there’s a BJP government, we won’t let this happen.”

5.19 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says Narendra Modi is making a mockery of the Army by calling them “Modi Sena”, reports News18. “I am born in the land of Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore,” she says in Coochbehar. “We won’t take a nationalist certificate from you.”

5.17 pm: Modi says he needs to pull India out from 72 years of despair and bring prosperity in the country, reports Hindustan Times. Modi is speaking at the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata.

5.15 pm: Modi says West Bengal is being run and ruined by aunt and nephew, referring to Mamata Banerjee and her nephew, Abhijit Banerjee. “BJP will overthrow misrule in the state,” News18 quotes him as saying.

5.12 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says leaders opposing him have become those opposing the interests of the nation, reports Hindustan Times. “Today some people in their hate for Modi have started speaking against India,” he says, according to ANI. “Who raised doubts on airstrike? Who demoralised armed forces? Who had asked for count of bodies of terrorists?”

5.09 pm: Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refers to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “expiry babu” at a public rally in Coochbehar, reports News18. “Today at Siliguri you mentioned our government has done nothing for the poor. What have you done?” she asks.

5.02 pm: BJP fields Prem Singh Shakya against Samajwadi Party veteran Mulayam Singh Yadav from Mainpuri, reports PTI. The saffron party names Dinesh Pratap Singh its candidate against Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli.

4.58 pm: PM Modi says Congress has insulted Sudip Biswas and Babloo Santra, the CRPF jawans killed in the February 14 Pulwama attack, by questioning the Balakot airstrikes.

4.52 pm: “I have nothing against VIP movement, but it is not right to block roads and airspace,” Mamata Banerjee says in Coochbehar.

4.50 pm: TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee begins her public meeting in Coochbehar. She apologises for reaching late. She says she reached late because of the VIP movement near Siliguri, referring to Modi’s rally before hers.

4.48 pm: Modi accuses Mamata Banerjee of denying the people of West Bengal the benefits of the Seventh Pay Commission. “The situation in Tripura was the same till the time the BJP came to power,” Modi adds.

4.46 pm: Modi says people have come up with the slogan Modi hatao. “Why Modi hatao?” he asks. “What crime has he committed? Providing home to poor is a crime? Providing toilet to poor; cooking cylinder; free treatment to poor is a crime? If yes, then I have committed a crime.”

4.45 pm: Modi once again attacks the Congress. “In their manifesto, the Congress has stated that they will dilute AFSPA,” says Modi. “This move will help Pakistan sponsored terrorist. The Congress is determined to bring instability in the country.”

4.44 pm: “This brigade ground has never seen such a huge crowd before,” says Modi. “I am here to present my report card to you today.” He talks about surgical strikes and Mission Shakti.

4.41 pm: Modi says BJP’s victory wave in the upcoming elections is emerging from Bengal. “If the country’s political pundits have to guess May 23 [Lok Sabha election results will be declared on that day], they can guess from the wave that is coming from Bangland,” he says.

4.40 pm: Narendra Modi begins his speech at Kolkata’s historic Brigade Parade Ground.

4.38 pm: The Trinamool Congress calls Modi speech in Siliguri a jumla. “He does it again!,” tweets the party. “Another #jumla speech of falsehood and lies at Siliguri #Bengal rally.” The party also included a fact-checking platform link on their website.

4.32 pm: BJP releases 16th list of six candidates in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Manoj Kotak will contest from Mumbai North East where Kirit Somaiya is the sitting MP. In Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh seat, BJP’s Dinesh Lal Yadav will stand against Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.

3.58 pm: The Congress fields CJ Chavda against BJP President Amit Shah from Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat in Gujarat, reports PTI. So far, the Congress has named 18 candidates in Gujarat. The last date of filing of nomination is April 4. Polling in all 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state will be held on April 23.

The Congress nominates four-time MP and former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal for the Chandigarh seat.

Read more here

Lok Sabha polls: Congress fields CJ Chavda from Gandhinagar against BJP’s Amit Shah

3.12 pm: “We had given Assam special status but the BJP snatched it away,” says Rahul Gandhi. “If we come to power, we will once again give Assam the special status.”

3.09 pm: Addressing a rally in Assam’s Golaghat, Rahul Gandhi says that the money for NYAY will come from the pockets of all the businessmen shielded by the BJP government. “It’s time to turn the narrative of this country towards the truth. Earlier the slogan was “achche din” but now it is, “chowkidar chor hai”,” he adds.

Read more here

Rahul Gandhi says NYAY scheme funds will come from ‘pockets of chor businessmen’

3.07 pm: Tripura Chief Electoral Officer Sriram Taranikanti says the poll body has taken steps for 100% webcasting of all booths in the state. “Video viewing and surveillance teams would be deployed across the state, which would monitor all poll activities inside the polling booths on the day of voting,” he tells PTI.

3.01 pm: Congress President addresses an election rally in Assam’s Golaghat. “While BJP made you stand in serpentine queues for your own money with draconian policies like demonetisation, we will bring you justice with NYAY,” he says.

Under the NYAY scheme, the poorest 20% families of the country will get an income support of Rs 72,000 per annum. The scheme was first announced on March 25.

2.43 pm: Vivek Oberoi tells ANI that the makers of ‘PM Narendra Modi’ only tried to tell an inspirational story. “We are not projecting Modiji as larger than life, he already is larger than life,” he says. “We are not projecting him as a hero, he already is a hero, not only for me but for crores of people in India and abroad.”

2.41 pm: Vivek Oberoi says people are overreacting to the release of Narendra Modi’s biopic ahead of the elections. “Why are such senior and famous lawyers like Abhishek Singhvi ji and Kapil Sibalji wasting time on filing a PIL on such a modest film?” he asks. “Don’t know if they are scared of the film or of chowkidar’s danda [baton].” ‘PM Narendra Modi’, starring Vivek Oberoi, will be released on April 5.

2.39 pm: At his rally in Siliguri, Modi also criticises the Congress for promising to review some clauses of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Modi says the AFSPA acts like a shield for the security forces against terrorists. “They [the Congress] want our defence forces to be helpless...their hands and feet tied,” says Modi.

2.35 pm: Congress announces candidates for two Lok Sabha and nine Assembly seats in Odisha. The party fields former Odisha minister Panchanan Kanungo from the Cuttack Lok Sabha seat. He will take on BJP candidate Prakash Mishra and BJD nominee MP Bhartruhari Mahtab.

2.24 pm: Mamata Banerjee was more hurt by the Balakot airstrike than Pakistan, alleges Modi.

2.23 pm: Modi attacks Mamata Banerjee over the ponzi scam in Bengal. “The Saradha chit fund scam looted the people of Bengal, but when the BJP tried to intervene, speedbreaker didi didn’t let us,” he says.

2.13 pm: “Didi also put a break on the development of more than 70 lakh farmer households in West Bengal,” Modi claims, adding that money is being directly transferred to farmers’ bank accounts under the PM Kisan Samman Yojana in various states of the country.

The Centre has earmarked Rs 20,000 crore for disbursal among 12 crore farmers under the scheme in the current financial year. In March, Jaitley had said that the West Bengal government did not send any name of small and marginal farmer for the transfer of the first installment of the scheme.

2.05 pm: Addressing a public rally in West Bengal’s Siliguri, Modi accuses Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of not allowing the people of Bengal to benefit from government’s Ayushman Bharat scheme. “Didi [Mamata Banerjee] is a speed breaker of your development,” he says. “If poverty is eliminated, Didi’s policies will be scrapped.”

In January, Banerjee had pulled West Bengal out of the national health insurance scheme. In July 2018, the West Bengal government had signed an agreement with the Centre to implement the scheme under the joint banner of Ayushman Bharat-Swasthya Sathi.

1.55 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati calls the Congress manifesto a showoff and an illusion. “Congress election manifesto appears to be a showoff and illusion like its pervious promises,” she says in a tweet. “Due to continuous working against its promises, there is no credibility left for Congress among the people. Congress and BJP are no different in non-fulfilling promises.”

She also claimed that the BJP was afraid of the alliance between her party, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal. “The BJP is so afraid that instead of talking of issues, they indulge in unnecessary casteist statements against the alliance’s top leaders. No one should be provoked by the statements and give them befitting reply by showing good results.”

Read more here

No difference between illusions in Congress and BJP manifestos, says Mayawati

1.40 pm: The Supreme Court asks Gorkha Janmukti leaders Roshan Giri and Bimal Gurung, who have sought protection to participate in campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections, to approach Calcutta High Court within four days for the relief. Giri and Gurung are among the accused in the 2010 Madan Tamang murder case.

The bench of Justices Arun Mishra, MM Shantanagoudar and Navin Sinha directs the Calcutta High Court to decide the matter expeditiously. The top court asks authorities not to take any coercive action against the two leaders till then.

On Tuesday, Giri had told the Supreme Court that the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government was vindictive towards him and has implicated him in many fake cases. The government, however, claimed that there were several incriminating materials against him showing his complicity in various cases.

1.35 pm: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu rejects the Congress’ claims that he was involved in a cash-for-votes scandal. “It is absolutely wrong. ‘Cash for Vote’ is rather practiced by Congress party,” Khandu said, according to ANI. “Investigation under the Election Commission will reveal all the details. We have got the information that it has been recovered from a BJP candidate’s car.”

1.13 pm: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti takes a jibe at Union minister Arun Jaitley for his remark that statements from Kashmiri mainstream parties create a “separatists psyche” and were not acceptable to new India.

“Unacceptable is a new India where those who kill and lynch in the name of religion are feted and garlanded,” Mufti says on Twitter. “If standing up for my people makes me a separatist and anti national then its a badge I will wear with honour.”

1.05 pm: Congress’ manifesto proves that the party wants to support traitors and separatists, Sitharaman says.

1 pm: Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman calls Congress’ manifesto “anti-forces”. This is an attempt to weaken the armed forces, Sitharaman says. “Terrorist-friendly people will misuse AFSPA,” she says at a press conference at BJP headquarters.

Some aspects of the Congress’ manifesto which will make the armed forces hands and legs tied and stop them from functioning, Sitharaman claimed. “Congress wants to dilute the AFSPA and demoralise the Armed forces, limit the powers of a district magistrate,” she adds.

In its manifesto released on Tuesday, the Congress promised to amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. AFSPA gives the military sweeping powers to search and arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”, and to do so with a degree of immunity from prosecution.

Read more here

Promise in Congress manifesto to amend AFSPA favours traitors, separatists: Nirmala Sitharaman

12.45 pm: Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad alleges Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav were agents of the BJP, PTI reports. “Akhilesh Yadav gave promotion to officers who inflicted atrocities on Dalits,” Azad says. “His father says in Parliament that he wants Modi to become prime minister again. They are agents of the BJP, not me.”

He also counters claims of Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati who had said that Azad had the support of the BJP. Azad says he would not have contested the election in Varanasi if his candidature strengthened Modi in any way.

Varanasi is the parliamentary constituency of Modi. In March, Azad had announced that he would contest against the prime minister to take on the BJP.

12.43 pm: The Congress releases list of 4 candidates from West Bengal.

12.40 pm: Peoples Democratic Party president and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti files nomination from Anantnag parliamentary constituency, ANI reports.

12.35 pm: The Congress also demands that BJP state unit chief Tapir Gao’s candidature from West Arunachal seat should be terminated.

12.24 pm: “Around 12 midnight, huge amounts of money was recovered and next day at 10 am, the prime minister addressed a public rally in Pasighat...Is this not cash for vote scandal?” Surjewala says at the press conference.

The Congress leader says this is a “black day” for democracy. “The chowkidar’s theft has been caught red-handed,” he claims. “Cash for vote” is the motto of Narendra Modi, he adds.

Surjewala demands resignation of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu. “Isn’t concealing and hoarding cash during an election a ‘corrupt practice’ and a serious violation of law under Section 123(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1951 and Section 171B of the Indian Penal Code and is a solid ground for termination of candidature?” he asks.

12.20 pm: The Congress alleges that the BJP is indulging in cash for votes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala claims that money was distributed to people ahead of the prime minister’s rally in Pasighat in Arunachal on Wednesday.

At a press conference, the Congress releases two videos, the authenticity of which cannot be verified. Surjewala says the police had recovered Rs 1.80 crore in Rs 500 notes around 10.30 pm on Tuesday night when searches were conducted on Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s convoy.

He claimed the cash was being counted in the presence of Election Commission’s Expenditure officer Smrita Kaur Gill and Deputy Commissioner Pasighat Kinny Singh.

12.14 pm: All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi lashes out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for claiming that there were no Hindu terrorists. “The man who killed Mahatma Gandhi, who was he?” Owaisi asks, according to Times Now. “Nathuram Godse, who was he? Was he Owaisi’s brother? Was he not a terrorist? Tell us, Modi, who was Nathuram Godse?”

12.05 pm: BJP leader Jayakaran Gupta has made a derogatory remark purportedly about Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. “The lady who used to wear skirts is now wearing saris and visiting temples,” Gupta is heard saying in a video doing the round on social media. “The ones who used to stay way from Gangajal are now consuming the holy water.”

In March, Priyanka Gandhi had visited temples and holy sites along the banks of Ganga in Uttar Pradesh during her Ganga Yatra.

Gupta, however, has backtracked from the comment saying it was not aimed at Priyanka Gandhi. “Under the leadership of PM Modi, Nitin Gadkari has carried out the cleaning of Ganga,” Gupta told ANI. “Crores of people came from other countries as well for the Kumbh; those who used to wear skirts too came in saris...My comments, therefor, are not aimed at anyone directly”

11.53 am: President of Bharat Dharma Jana Sena and NDA candidate from Wayanad, Thushar Vellappally files his nomination. He will be pitted against Rahul Gandhi.

11.44 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi will hold three public meetings in the Northeast — one in Nagaland and two in Assam’s Golaghat district and North Lakhimpur town.

11.30 am: The Election Commission seeks a report from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting a new 24-hour television channel, NaMo TV, which covers Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaigns live, reports ANI. The channel, named after Modi, is available on all major Direct to Home platforms. The Aam Aadmi Party has complained to the Election Commission on Monday. The poll body also writes to Doordarshan asking how it ran an hour-long live broadcast of Modi’s public address on March 31.

11.10 am: BJP MLA Tejendra Nirwal and Congress leader Imran Masood have been booked for violating the Model Code of Conduct, PTI reports. Nirwal allegedly made objectionable remarks during a rally of Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya at Jhinjhana on Tuesday. Masood is also accused of making objectionable statements against Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an election meeting.

11.08 am: Is the Congress with the nation or with anti-nationals? asks Modi. “To save Arunachal, for its progress, it is necessary to strengthen the hands of Pema Khandu, and the BJP. Till the time this chowkidar is around, people who try to break up the country will have to think a hundred times,” says Modi.

11 am: Modi says the Congress’ manifesto is a set of lies served to fool the people of the country. “It is a sham. Congress always makes false promises and that is what it is doing even now,” he says.

10.55 am: This is an election between propriety and corruption, says Modi.

10.54 am: Modi says the BJP does not promise just one thing and stretch it for decades. “We are people who work sincerely to make your lives easy. We have provided free LPG connections, have worked for the farmers without making false promises,” he says.

10.53 am: Modi says the Congress was never sensitive to the dreams, aspirations and the needs of the Northeast. “But your chowkidar promises to keep addressing the needs of all the people and bring change,” he adds.

10.52 am: We aim to make Arunachal and the entire northeast region the gateway to East Asia, says Modi at Pasighat rally.

10.51 am: Arunachal is on a new path to development because of the BJP, claims Modi. “Even though one family ruled for 70 years on this country, they cannot take credit for any development activity in the country. There’s only so much I could do in 5 years, but i guarantee that if voted to power, I will keep the development activity going in the country.”

10.50 am: Modi says the BJP government brought development to Arunachal Pradesh by strengthening connectivity routes. “In 2014, this place where we are all gathered was all wilderness and farm lands,” he says. “But today, this is a stadium. We brought electricity to every corner and every village of AP.”

10.43 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will start addressing a rally in Arunachal Pradesh’s Pasighat shortly.

10.42 am: Congress MLA Pawan Kajal will contest from Kangra constituency in Himachal Pradesh in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, reports PTI. He will be pitted against BJP minister Kishan Kapoor. In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress has announced candidates for three out of the four Lok Sabha seats. It is yet to announce its candidate from Hamirpur where BJP’s Anurag Thakur is recontesting. The state will vote on May 19.

10.39 am: Lok Sabha Speaker and Indore MP Sumitra Mahajan says she has never sought ticket from the party since 1989, reports PTI. The eight-time legislator says BJP leaders might be having “something on their mind”. The BJP this time has not given ticket to many party veterans like LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.

10.27 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address two rallies in Bengal – one in Siliguri and the other in Kolkata – on Wednesday. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee changes her schedule to counter Modi. Though her election campaign was to begin on April 4, she will now be addressing a rally in Dinhata immediately after Modi’s address in Siliguri. While the PM will address the rally around 1 pm in Siliguri, Mamata’s rally at Dinhata will begin at 3 pm.

10.20 am: High school students in Assam’s Sivasagar will act as “electoral ambassadors” in three Assembly segments to ensure increased turnout, reports PTI. Each student will be encouraged to ensure at least 10 adults in their area exercise their franchise.

9.50 am: All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi says there is “no wave as such” in this Lok Sabha elections. “ That is why, out of the 135 seats in south India, they [the BJP] will get a few seats, may be here or there,” Owaisi tells The Hindu in an interview. “I don’t think the BJP can even retain the two seats in Andhra Pradesh, one in Telangana and one in Tamil Nadu.”

9.45 am: United Democratic Front candidate Ramya Haridas has filed a complaint with Alathur deputy superintendent of police alleging that Left Democratic Front convener A Vijayaraghavan had insulted her at a public meeting in Ponnani, reports The New Indian Express.

9.06 am: At a joint rally with Janata Dal (United) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Gaya, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says all terrorists organisations stopped their activities after May 2014 (when the BJP-led government came to power). He claims that the Opposition and the terrorists and their supporters had something in common – they are all worried about the chowkidar.

Read more here: Modi holds rally with Nitish Kumar in Bihar, says Congress and terrorists worried about chowkidar

9.05 am: Actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha criticises Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public speeches, saying they “lack content and depth” and have become “highly repetitive and irritating”. Sinha refers to Modi as “honourable outgoing Sirji”.

Read more here

Shatrughan Sinha takes a jibe at Narendra Modi, refers to him as ‘outgoing Sirji’

9.01 am: Here are the top updates from Tuesday

  • The Congress released its manifesto on Tuesday. It promised 34 lakh government jobs, income support and universal healthcare. 
  • BJP leader Arun Jaitley alleged that some ideas presented in the manifesto were ‘positively dangerous’. BJP’s Sushma Swaraj and Amit Shah also criticised the Congress party.    
  • The Election Commission pulled up the aviation and railways ministries over alleged code of conduct violations. The poll body called their approach towards enforcing the poll code ‘lackadaisical’.     
  • Former Navy chief Admiral L Ramdas said he will approach the EC against Adityanath’s remark calling Army ‘Modiji ki Sena’.
  • Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah told off Gautam Gambhir after he commented on the National Conference leader’s remark calling for a separate prime minister for the state. Abdullah told the cricketer to stick to what he knows about and ‘tweet about IPL’.
  • An Election Commission squad seized copies of a book on Rafale deal in Chennai, according to several reports. But the poll body said it had not ordered any action against the book and ordered an inquiry.
  • Muslims won’t get BJP tickets in Karnataka because they don’t trust us, claimed senior  leader KS Eshwarappa. He also said the Congress only uses Muslims as a vote bank and does not give them tickets either.
  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused an urgent hearing of Congress leader Hardik Patel’s plea challenging the Gujarat High Court’s refusal to stay his conviction in a 2015 rioting case. Patel will not be allowed to contest the Lok Sabha elections.