11 pm: Here are the top updates of the day.

  • BJP Spokesperson Shaina NC said that all parties, including her own, need to field more woman candidates in the elections
  • Senior BJP leader LK Advani in a blog post said his party has never regarded those who disagree with it politically as “anti-national”.
  • The president has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to look into an Election Commission letter taking objection to Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh’s remark seeking support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The biopic PM Narendra Modi will not be released on April 5 as scheduled, the producer has said.
  • Minister VK Singh backtracked after he told a journalist that anybody who claims the Indian Army is the army of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not only wrong, but also a traitor to the country.
  • Four polling teams in Arunachal Pradesh have set out on a lengthy journey involving a helicopter ride and a long walk to set up their voting booths in the state.
  • A group of scientists and researchers have issued a statement ahead of the upcoming national elections, urging citizens to vote wisely – “against inequality, intimidation, discrimination, and unreason”. 
  • The Election Commission has issued BJP MP Ramdas Tadas a notice to seek an explanation for his purported comments about poll expenses in a TV channel sting video.
  • Indian political parties and their affiliates have spent Rs 3.76 crore on 831 advertisements on Google since February 19. The BJP was the top advertiser.
  • The Supreme Court refused to hear a petition seeking the rescheduling of voting for the Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
  • Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination in Wayanad, Kerala.
  • Nishad Party leader and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha MP Praveen Nishad on Thursday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.
  • The Maharashtra Election Commission on Thursday sought a report from polling officials after political leader Prakash Ambedkar claimed that he will jail the poll body if his party comes to power

10.30 pm: An FIR was filed against political leader Prakash Ambedkar after he said he would “jail the Election Commission” if he came to power, PTI reported. He made the remarks at a rally in Yavatmal, Maharashtra. The State Election Commission has sought a report from the local poll officials on Ambedkar’s speech, Additional Chief Electoral Officer Dilip Shinde told PTI.

9.55 pm: The people of Amethi have already accepted Smriti Irani as their MP, PTI reported BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain as saying. “Rahul Gandhi has decided to contest from Wayanad (in Kerala) for fear of getting defeated from the Amethi constituency because the people of Amethi have already accepted Smriti Irani as their MP,” he claims.

Hussain also says the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance will win all of Maharashtra’s 48 Lok Sabha seats. “The Congress-NCP will not be able to win even a single seat,” he says. “They were hoping that BJP and Sena will not contest together, which would have benefited them.”

9 pm: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley defends the electoral bond scheme and says if donors are forced to disclose their names, the system of political funding through cash and black money will return, PTI reports. “There is a particular psychic of individuals, particularly in NGO sector, that they don’t suggest a solution but they have a problem with every solution. The EC... has also succeeded in many, many areas and became an extremely successful role model Election Commission. But money it has not been able to control,” Jaitley said at an event in Delhi.

8.35 pm: Narendra Modi shares Advani’s blog and says, “Advani Ji perfectly sums up the true essence of BJP, most notably the guiding Mantra of ‘Nation First, Party Next, Self Last.’ Proud to be a BJP Karyakarta and proud that greats like LK Advani Ji have strengthened it.”

8.05 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says the views expressed by senior BJP leader LK Advani in a blog on extending “democratic courtesies” is significant. “Of course, all Opposition who raise their voices are not anti national,” she says on Twitter. “We welcome his statement [and] convey our humble regards.”

8 pm: President Ram Nath Kovind asks the Ministry of Home Affairs to look into an Election Commission letter taking objection to Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh’s remark seeking support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election bid.

7.57 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi says the party will do a “surgical strike” on poverty, ANI reports. He says Rs 72,000 will be transferred annually to the poorest 20% families in the country under the NYAY scheme. “No matter what, I don’t care, my aim is clear,” he says in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

7.53 pm: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says the Congress party’s poll promise of curbing monopolies in the media and ending cross-ownership of media segments is anachronic and aimed at restricting free journalism, reports PTI. “It is not in tune with the times,” he says. “However, even while drafting this chapter, a new facility is sought to be provided to the terrorists and the insurgents.”

7.46 pm: The Election Commission initiates an inquiry into alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct by Meghalaya Minister AL Hek who allegedly used his official vehicle to campaign for the BJP candidate contesting for the Shillong Lok Sabha seat, reports PTI.

Meghalaya Chief Electoral Officer FR Kharkongor asked returning officer Abhishek Bhagotia to conduct an inquiry.

7.35 pm: The Election Commission refuses permission to circulate six campaign videos submitted by the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, including one on the Rafale scam, PTI reports.

7.33 pm: Assam government declares dry days during elections in the state where polling will be held on April 11, April 18 and April 23, reports PTI. The 48-hour liquor ban will start at 5 pm on the day that campaigning ends till 5 pm on the day of polling.

7.27 pm: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi says Anil Ambani’s businesses tanked and has no money, but he still got the biggest defence contract, reports PTI. Gandhi is addressing a rally in Maharashtra.

7.24 pm: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath says he has nothing to do with his nephew Ratul Puri’s business, reports ANI. The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Puri to join the AgustaWestland money laundering investigation.

“He’s independent, he has nothing to do with politics and I have nothing to do with his business,” Nath says. “Whatever there is, it must be investigated but how these issues come up during elections only?”

7.20 pm: The Election Commission has seized Rs 399.505 crore in cash, Rs 162.892 crore worth liquor, Rs 708.549 crore worth drugs, precious metals worth Rs 318.495 crore and freebies, other items worth Rs 29.342 crore till date, reports ANI.

7.09 pm: Union minister VK Singh says anybody who claims the Indian Army is the army of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not only wrong, but also a traitor to the country.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath had on April 1 said at a rally in Ghaziabad: “The Congress government used to serve biryani to terrorists and Modi ji’s army sends bullets and bombs their way.” The Election Commission of India on Wednesday issued a notice to Adityanath for this remark.

7.04 pm: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Thursday defends the electoral bond scheme. He says if donors are forced to disclose their names, the system of political funding through cash and black money will return, reports PTI. He says people who find fault with the scheme don’t have any alternative to check the use of black money in the electoral process.

6.54 pm: Advani says his desire that everyone “collectively strive to strengthen the democratic edifice of India”. He says: “True, elections are a festival of democracy. But they are also an occasion for honest introspection by all the stakeholders in Indian democracy – political parties, mass media, authorities conducting the election process and, above all, the electorate.”

Read more here:

Full text: LK Advani says BJP has never regarded those who disagree with it as ‘anti-national’

6.50 pm: Advani says the BJP has been committed to the “freedom of choice of every citizen at personal as well as political level”. He says defending the democracy and democratic traditions, within the party and in the national setting, has been the “proud hallmark of BJP”.

“Therefore BJP has always been in the forefront of demanding protection of independence, integrity, fairness and robustness of all our democratic institutions, including the media,” he says. “Electoral reforms, with special focus on transparency in political and electoral funding, which is so essential for a corruption-free polity, has been another priority for our party.”

6.48 pm: Senior BJP leader LK Advani writes a blog ahead of the party’s Foundation Day on April 6. “Right from its inception, the BJP has never regarded those who disagree with us politically as our “enemies”, but only as our adversaries,” he writes in the blog. “Similarly, in our conception of Indian nationalism, we have never regarded those who disagree with us politically as “anti-national”.”

6.43 pm: Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam says the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Congress are responsible for the genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils during the final phase of the civil war in the island nation in 2009, reports PTI.

Panneerselvam says the two parties were in power at the time, but did nothing to protect the Lankan Tamils. He claims five members of the DMK alliance instead visited Sri Lanka and received “valuable gifts” from the then President Mahinda Rajapaksha.

6.35 pm: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi says he is overwhelmed by the love and affection of the people of Wayanad in Kerala. “Thank you for your support [and] warm welcome!” he says on Twitter. “I also want to wish the journalists injured in a mishap during our road show a speedy recovery.”

Gandhi filed his nomination from the Wayanad constituency on Thursday.

6.32 pm: Omung Kumar, who directed the biopic PM Narendra Modi, says the film will not be released on April 5, reports ANI. He says: “Suspense! The film isn’t releasing tomorrow, not on 5 April. But it’ll be done soon, you’ll get to know. We don’t want to tell you the date now. Opposition had come forward, tried things. It’s late but we know what date to release it on.”

6.28 pm: Senior Congress leader Ashwani Kumar says 2019 elections are a “watershed election”, saying its outcome will determine the quality and future of India’s democracy, reports PTI. “... the choice before the nation is clear, that is between freedom and fear, inclusion and exclusion, tolerance and intolerance, justice and injustice, and between equality and inequality,” he says at a press conference in Chandigarh.

6.25 pm: In a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar says he does not mess with anyone but “shows the place” to someone who does, reports PTI. Pawar accuses Modi of seeking political mileage out of the valour shown by security forces after the Pulwama terror attack. He was speaking at a polly rally at Gondia, Maharashtra.

6.21 pm: BJP spokesperson Shaina NC criticises political parties, including her own, for not fielding enough women candidates for the upcoming elections. “It requires political will, respect for women, belief in women as a votebank...not just lip service to our cause, manifesto after manifesto,” she tells The Indian Express.

5.54 pm: The BJP replaces BJP leader Smita Wagh with Chalisgaon MLA Unmesh Patil as its candidate for Jalgaon in North Maharashtra. Patil filed his nomination on Thursday and said that Wagh had accompanied him.

5.50 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath accuses Congress of playing into the hands of anti-national and separatist forces by releasing a manifesto which promises to repeal the sedition law and dilution of Armed Force (Special Powers) Act, reports PTI. He was addressing a rally in support of BJP candidate for Nainital, Ajay Bhatt, in Uttarakhand.

5.46 pm: Jammu and Kashmir chief electoral officer says that allegations that National Conference candidate Akbar Lone raised pro-Pakistan slogans are incorrect, reports PTI. BJP leaders and their allies claimed that Lone had raised pro-Pakistan slogans during a rally.

5.39 pm: “More than Rs 7,000 crore has been provided but Polavaram irrigation project is not progressing,” Shah says. “Andhra Pradesh isn’t going to benefit from the project because it’s money has been gobbled by the Chandrababu Naidu.”

5.37 pm: Shah says the mahagathbandhan or the Grand Alliance neither has a policy nor a political leader to lead them.

5.35 pm: BJP chief Amit Shah says there is no place for Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu in the National Democratic Alliance. Shah is addressing a gathering in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.

“Chandrababu Naidu is an ultimate opportunist leader,” he says. “In 1983 he left Congress and joined great MGR. In 1989, he back stabbed NTR and became CM himself.”

5.12 pm: Sandip Ssingh, producer of biopic on the prime minister PM Narendra Modi, tweets that the film will not release on April 5.

5.02 pm: Akhilesh Yadav takes a jibe at the BJP after Praveen Kumar Nishad, Gorakhpur MP of the Samajwadi Party, joined the BJP. “This is BJP’s loss-making deal as people had voted for the grand alliance [Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samajwadi Party] and not the parliamentarian [Praveen Nishad],” he said on Twitter.

Yadav claims Nishad had switched over to the BJP in return for a bag of “prasad” (cash) from the “mathadheesh” (head priest) of the Gorakhnath temple, referring to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath.

Read more here: Gorakhpur MP Praveen Nishad joins BJP days after his party quits Opposition alliance

4.28 pm: Congress workers create ruckus at their party office in Patna after former party MP from Aurangabad Nikhil Kumar was denied a ticket.

4.26 pm: Congress names KV Thangkabalu the poll in charge of the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, reports The Hindu. “Thangkabalu will stay put in Wayanad till the completion of polls,” says a party release. “He has made arrangements for holding a rally in which top Congress leaders will participate.”

4.23 pm: Congress and BJP workers clash outside the Surat collector’s office as candidates of both the parties arrive to file their nominations. Deputy Commissioner of Police Vidhi Chaudhary says no FIR has been filed yet.

4.19 pm: The Election Commission transfers Hassan Superintendent of Police AN Prakash Gowda and changed an election observer in Mandya, reports PTI. Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda’s grandsons are contesting from these two Lok Sabha seats.

4.12 pm: Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma says the Modi government is in the “departure lounge”. Launching the Congress’ manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in Mumbai, Sharma says, “Its [Modi government’s] time to threaten and mislead people is over. He considers his political rivals as his personal enemies. We don’t want to engage in conversation by stooping to that level.”

4.03 pm: Communist Party of India leader D Raja says the Congress has taken a short-sighted decision by fielding its president Rahul Gandhi against the Left candidate in Wayanad, reports PTI. “What is the message the Congress wants to convey to the whole nation by fielding Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad?” he asks. “In a way, they are subjecting Gandhi to embarrassment by forcing him to fight CPI and the Left.”

4.01 pm: National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah says his party, if voted to power, will review and cancel cases filed against the youth in Jammu and Kashmir since 2015. Addressing an election meeting here in Chijhama village in Baramulla, Abdullah says, “We want to attract our people towards us, we want such a situation here where we can talk to each other freely and address the problems of this state.”

3.34 pm: Mamata Banerjee says the “chaiwallah, who failed to fulfill promises, has now turned into a chowkidar to fool masses”. “We salute the the real chowkidars, not the fake ones. People are now saying “chowkidar jhoota hai”. Where is the Rs 15 lakh they promised? Farmers are dying in the country.”

3.29 pm: At Cooch Behar rally, Mamata Banerjee says if Modi is re-elected, he will do everything to defy the Constitution. “This will probably be last election in the country,” she adds.

3.25 pm: Congress names 12 candidates from Madhya Pradesh. Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s son Nakul Nath will contest from Chhindwara.

3.15 pm: Mamata Banerjee says she will never allow NRC in Bengal, reports PTI. “Modi is no one to decide who will stay and who will leave,” she says in Cooch Behar.

3.10 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee takes a dig at Narendra Modi and his upcoming biopic. At a rally in Cooch Behar’s Mathabhanga, she says, “Why will people watch your film? If people want to watch films they will watch films on Gandhiji, Ambedkarji, why Modi? What contribution has he made to India?

3 pm: Congress Gujarat MLA Kalu Dabhi resigns from the party’s primary membership after he was denied ticket for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Dabhi wanted to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Kheda where the Congress has fielded Bimal Shah.

State Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi says they will try to pacify Dabhi, adding that his resignation has not been accepted.

2.54 pm: The Biju Janata Dal announces Minakshi Mahanta its candidate from Champua Assembly seat in Odisha. In 2014, BJD nominee Tatwa Prakash Satpathy had lost the seat to independent candidate Sanatan Mahakud. The ruling party is yet to announce its candidates for Kendrapara and Baripada Assembly seats.

2.41 pm: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says the NDA government will lower tax rates if elected back to power, reports PTI. He adds the GST Council has cut tax rates on consumption items from the highest slab of 28%. Addressing the annual general meeting of Confederation of Indian Industries, Jaitley says lowering the tax rate on cement is next on agenda.

2.37 pm: TataSky CEO Harit Nagpal clarifies that NaMo TV is not a Hindi news service but a special service via internet that does not need a government licence. “If someone in the frontline at Tata Sky has tweeted or said that it is a news service, it is a mistake,” he tells NDTV. The channel is dedicated to live coverage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaigns. The channel, named after Modi, is available on all major Direct to Home platforms.

Nagpal’s clarification comes at a time when the Election Commission asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to submit a report on the launch of NaMo TV a week before the Lok Sabha elections. The poll body’s order is based on a complaint by the Aam Aadmi Party that said the launch of such a channel is against the principle of creating a level-playing field for all parties.

2.29 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati says the Bharatiya Janata Party is making the same mistake that the Congress made under Indira Gandhi – by making the prime minister synonymous with the nation. She says the ruling party is insulting democracy.

Read more here

‘By saying Modi is India, BJP is making the same mistake as Indira Gandhi’s Congress’: Mayawati

2.21 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav makes fun of the BJP, asking if it will release its manifesto of “achhe din” after the elections.

2.12 pm: Smriti Irani starts her two-day Amethi visit. Addressing a public meeting of farmers, Kisan Sammelan, the Union minister says, “For 15 years you [Rahul Gandhi] couldn’t do anything in Amethi and now you’ve gone to Kerala.” Gandhi filed his nomination from a second seat in Wayanad today.

“He is filing his papers from another Lok Sabha seat,” The Indian Express reported Irani as saying. “This is an insult to Amethi and a betrayal of the people. People here will celebrate Diwali on May 23, end the ‘vanvas’ and march towards the path of development.”

2.09 pm: Rahul Gandhi helps three journalists, who sustained minor injuries after a barricade broke during his roadshow in Wayanad, reach the ambulance.

2.04 pm: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah rejects BJP President Amit Shah’s claim that the saffron party broke its coalition with Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party after it was pressured to dilute the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. “Why are @AmitShah & the PDP lying to people about AFSPA? PDP has no intention of doing anything with AFSPA & BJP didn’t break the coalition because of AFSPA. This is from Ms Mufti’s Assembly speech as CM in February 2018,” Abdullah tweets.

Read more here: Amit Shah, Mehbooba Mufti ‘lying to the people’ about their stance on AFPSA, alleges Omar Abdullah

1.50 pm: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweets after Rahul Gandhi files nomination from Wayanad. “My brother, my truest friend, and by far the most courageous man I know. Take care of him Wayanad, he wont let you down,” she says.

1.45 pm: The Congress alleges that Modi promoted firms of his “capitalist friends” at the expense of state-run telecom companies BSNL and MTNL, PTI reports.

A media report on Wednesday claimed that the Department of Telecom is preparing a Cabinet note recommending voluntary retirement scheme for BSNL and MTNL employees above 50 years of age. “The Department is going to immediately approach the Election Commission for its nod to approach the Cabinet,” PTI had quoted an unidentified government official as saying.

“Whose telecom companies are BSNL and MTNL – of the countries 130 crore people,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said. “Government-owned BSNL and MTNL have been destroyed. Both companies are in debt. Modi ji has promoted the firms of his capitalist friends. BSNL and MTNL are now on the verge of closure.”

1.40 pm: Rahul Gandhi says he has come to Kerala to spread the message that India is one. There is a feeling in South India that the way Centre, Modi ji and RSS are working, it is like an assault on culture and languages in south,” Gandhi tells reporters. “I understand that my brothers and sisters in Communist Party of India (Marxist) will now speak against me and attack me, but I am not going to say a word against them in my entire campaign.”

Read more here

Rahul Gandhi files nomination in Wayanad, starts campaign with road show

12.50 pm: Nishad Party leader and Gorakhpur MP Pravin Nishad joins BJP. The Nishad Party will support the BJP in Uttar Pradesh in Lok Sabha elections.

Pravin Nishad had won the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat in a bye-election on a Samajwadi Party ticket in 2018. The Nishad Party had last week pulled out of the alliance of Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal in Uttar Pradesh.

The Nishad Party had wanted to contest on the Maharajganj seat using its own symbol in the General Elections, but the Samajwadi Party did not approve of this, reports said.

The Samajwadi Party has fielded Ram Bhuwal Nishad from Gorakhpur seat, who is also from the Nishad community.

Read more here

Gorakhpur MP Praveen Nishad joins BJP days after his party quits Opposition alliance

12.37 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi begins roadshow in Wayanad soon after filing nomination.

12.34 pm: Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge files nomination from Gulbarga Lok Sabha in Karnataka, ANI reports.

12.27 pm: Former Congress leader Ananda Bhaskar Rapolu joins BJP. Rapolu, a former Rajya Sabha MP, had resigned from Congress last month.

12.24 pm: BJP forms alliance with the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party on one seat in Rajasthan. Hanuman Beniwal, who heads the RLP, will contest on Nagaur seat, Union minister Prakash Javadekar says, according to PTI.

Beniwal, a former BJP leader, had floated his own party RLP ahead of the Assembly elections in the state in 2018 and won three seats. “My roots have been in the BJP and, therefore, I am more comfortable with the BJP,” Beniwal says. “I took the decision as my workers were in support of this alliance.”

12.19 pm: All 10 candidates from Muzaffarnagar Lok Sabha seat have received notices from district election officer to provide details of election expenses from April 1, PTI reports.

Ajit Singh, a candidate of the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance, and BJP’s Sanjiv Balyan are among the 10 candidates in the fray. Muzaffarnagar goes to polls on the first phase of Lok Sabha elections on April 11.

11.46 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi files nomination from Wayanad Parliamentary constituency. His sister and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accompanies him while filing nomination.

11.43 am: The Supreme Court refuses to hear a plea to reschedule the Lok Sabha polling date of April 18 in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, reports PTI. The plea was filed by a Christian body that said the scheduled date falls within the holy period of Good Friday and Easter.

Read more here

Supreme Court refuses to entertain plea seeking to postpone polling date in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry

11.41 am: Election Commission asks for a report on Prakash Ambedkar’s remarks made at a rally in Maharashtra, reports News18. The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi leader had threatened to jail poll body officials if he comes to power.

11.33 am: Rahul Gandhi sets out on a roadshow to the collector’s office in Wayanad. He will soon file his nomination.

10.58 am: The Supreme Court agrees to hear on April 8 the plea of a Congress leader seeking a stay on the release of Narendra Modi’s biopic, reports PTI.

Read more here

Narendra Modi biopic: Supreme Court agrees to hear plea against film’s release on April 8

10.48 am: Congress fields Babubhai Katara from Gujarat’s Dahod seat and Sherkhan Pathan will contest from Bharuch.

10.39 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi is on his way to Wayanad, reports News18. Gandhi his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will hold a roadshow after filing the nomination.

10.38 am: Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac says the Congress’ promise on GST is retrograde. “It seeks to drastically reduce the tax on luxury commodities and rob the states whatever that remains of the taxation powers,” he says. In its poll manifesto, the Congress proposed one slab for all goods and services.

10.25 am: Election Commission of India has seized Rs 377.511 crore in cash, liquor worth Rs 157 crore, drugs worth Rs 705 crore and precious metals worth Rs 312 crore till date, reports ANI.

10.20 am: The BJP is the biggest political advertiser on Google while Congress is ranked sixth. Google’s Indian Transparency Report says political parties and affiliates have spent Rs 3.76 crore on advertisements since February 19, 2019. While the BJP has spent Rs 1.21 crore on advertisement on Google, the Congress’ total expenditure is Rs 54,100.

Read more here

BJP leads election advertisement expenditure on Google, Congress ranked sixth

10.14 am: Scores of people gather outside the collector’s office in Wayanad where Congress President Rahul Gandhi will file his nomination soon, reports News18.

10.01 am: The body of a 42-year-old man is found hanging at BJP booth office in West Bengal’s Siliguri, reports ANI. The police say they are investigating the matter. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Siliguri.

9.54 am: BJP President Amit Shah will address rallies in Karimnagar, Warangal in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur. He is also likely to hold a roadshow in Vishakhpatnam, reports News18.

9.53 am: Smriti Irani will begin her two-day visit of Amethi today. She will address a kisan sabha in Salon before going to Amethi at 3.30 pm where she will hold a meeting with other BJP leaders.

9.51 am: Union minister Smriti Irani says Congress President Rahul Gandhi has insulted the people of Amethi by contesting from a second seat. The Congress will file nomination from Kerala’s Wayanad seat today. “He enjoyed a position of power for 15 years because of the support from Amethi, but now he is going to file nomination from elsewhere,” Irani says. “This is an insult of Amethi and people here will not tolerate this.”

9.05 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi will file his nomination from the Wayanad constituency of Kerala around 11.30 am on Thursday, PTI reports, quoting party leader Ramesh Chennithala. Gandhi arrived in Wayanad on Wednesday night. He will lead a roadshow from around 9.30 am before filing his nomination, says Chennithala.

On Sunday, the Congress had announced that Rahul Gandhi will contest the Lok Sabha elections from Wayanad in addition to his traditional Amethi seat in Uttar Pradesh.

9.05 am: A group of scientists and researchers issue a statement, urging citizens to vote wisely – “against inequality, intimidation, discrimination, and unreason”. They say citizens must “reject those who lynch or assault people” and those who “encourage such practices”.

9 am: The Election Commission issues Bharatiya Janata Party MP Ramdas Tadas a notice to seek an explanation for his purported comments about poll expenses in a TV channel sting video, PTI reports. The sting was part of a series that involved 18 MPs, reported by newly launched Hindi news channel TV9 Bharatvarsh. Tadas is his party’s election candidate again for Wardha constituency of Maharashtra.

8.55 am: Here are the top updates from Wednesday:

  • The Election Commission issued a notice to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for calling the Indian Army ‘Modiji ki Sena’.
  • Mamata Banerjee called PM Narendra 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”.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.