9 pm: Here are the top stories of the day:

  • The Indian Union Muslim League has urged the Election Commission to take action against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for comparing the Muslim League to a virus.
  • Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha officially joined the Indian National Congress on Saturday at the party’s headquarters in New Delhi. Soon after he joined the party, Congress announced that Sinha was being fielded from Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar.
  • Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Union Minister Kalraj Mishra said his party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had never promised to deposit Rs 15 lakh in every Indian’s bank account. Mishra alleged that Opposition parties were spreading disinformation to mislead the public.
  • Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj rebuked Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi for saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “kicked out” Bharatiya Janata Party veteran LK Advani. The minister said Gandhi should have “some decorum” in his speech.
  • Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala accused the Election Commission of being lenient towards the Bharatiya Janata Party’s alleged violations of the Model Code of Conduct for the elections. “Adityanath insults the Indian Army – EC writes a love letter to him. NITI Aayog vice chairman [Rajiv Kumar] criticises the NYAY scheme – EC says ‘don’t do it in future’,” he tweeted.
  • West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday wrote to the Election Commission against its decision to transfer four police officials including Kolkata Commissioner Anuj Sharma

8.58 pm: Addressing a rally in Nanded in Maharashtra, Modi says Congress is like a “sinking Titanic” and its allies are either drowning or escaping from it. He also accused the Opposition party increasing the tax burden on the middle class for the minimum income guarantee scheme.

8.15 pm: The Congress in Karnataka downplays the opposition of some Janata Dal (Secular) workers to extend support to the Congress candidate CH Vijayashankar from Mysore Lok Sabha seat. The workers have demanded that the Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah, PTI reports.

Siddaramaiah says the incident was blown out of proportion by the media. “Some lower rung workers yesterday said at a meeting of G T Deve Gowda that they wont vote for Congress,” PTI quotes him as saying. “That became a big news. Statements of a few individuals are not significant. We clearly tell those working against the party to quit the party and go.”

7.45 pm: Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena says the poll panel was examining allegations of bribe against Congress’ Kozhikode candidate MK Raghavan, PTI reports. Meena says the director general of police and the district electoral officer to file a detailed report soon. The officer said the Election Commission was also looking into the complaint that Raghavan filed alleging conspiracy behind the claims.

A television video clipping has purportedly shown Raghavan, a two-time Kozhikode MP, seeking Rs 5 crore for facilitating land acquisition for a real estate company. Raghavan has claimed that the video was fabricated.

“There are allegations that the video was doctored. In today’s world, anything is possible,” Meena says. “We will study the incident further. I have asked them to give a detailed report soon.”

7.20 pm: The Indian Union Muslim League says it has filed a complaint with the Election Commission against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath’s tweet that the “Muslim League is a virus”.

“IUML filed a complaint today with the Election Commission against the malicious tweet of Yogi Adityanath that Muslim League is a virus,” IUML National General Secretary PK Kunhalikutty says in a statement. “IUML does not need a certificate about its nationalist or patriotic credentials from any quarters, including Yogi Adityanath.”

The IUML is a recognised party in Kerala and has a long history of upholding the “secular democratic ethos of our Constitution”, he says. The Election Commission must take appropriate action against such forces “who are out to tarnish the image and secular credentials of IUML, he adds.

6.45 pm: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh criticises the Congress for promising in its election manifesto to remove sedition law. “They [the Congress] say that they would do away with rashtra droh [sedition] law and then have the temerity to come to the people seeking votes,” Singh says at a rally in Nawada in Bihar. “Can the people of the country vote for those who harbor such thoughts?”

Singh also criticises the Opposition for demanding that the government release the number of terrorists killed in the Balakot airstrikes. “Yudhveer [soldiers] are not interested in counting bodies. It is the work of gidhveer [vultures],” Singh says.

6.15 pm: BJP Kerala unit chief PS Sreedharan Pillai criticises Congress President Rahul Gandhi for his remarks that the Centre was neglecting south India. Gandhi had earlier this week claimed that there was a feeling in south India that they were not being “carried along” by the BJP-led government at the Centre. “South India feels hostility from Narendra Modi,” he had said.

“Gandhi’s allegation that the Modi government is neglecting south India is divisive politics,” Pillai says, according to PTI. “Even the Congress party has not raised such an allegation so far.”

5.45 pm: Congress General Secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra holds roadshow in Fatehpur.

5.40 pm: Former vice chief of Army staff Lieutenant General (retd) Sarath Chand joins BJP, ANI reports. “In today’s global scenario, the country needs a strong leadership,” Chand says, PTI reports. “I was inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership that’s why I am joining BJP.”

Chand was commissioned into the Garhwal Rifles in June 1979 and retired as vice chief of Indian Army on June 1, 2018.

4.35 pm: Sonia Gandhi says, “Today we are being taught a new definition of patriotism. Those who do not accept diversity are being called patriots.”

4.30 pm: Addressing Peoples’ Agenda - Jan Sarokar 2019 in Delhi, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi says the current BJP government has undermined the welfare architecture that was laid down over the last 65 years. “When the UPA was in power, under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh, government and civil society worked together,” she says. “It wasn’t an easy task, but with the support of civil society, our government spearheaded policies that gave shape to the dreams and aspirations of crores of fellow Indians.”

4.25 pm: Modi addresses public meeting in Balod in Chhattisgarh. The prime minister claims the Congress and its allies are contesting the elections to give leeway to terrorists and separatists, but the BJP is contesting elections to punish the terrorists and separatists. AFSPA is a ‘raksha kavach’ [armour] of security forces, he says, adding that the Congress in its manifesto has decided to review it.

3.50 pm: The BJP releases list of 24 candidates for General Elections, two candidates for Odisha Legislative Assembly Elections and two candidates for the bye-election to Chhindwara Assembly seat in Madhya Pradesh and Nighasan Assembly seat in Uttar Pradesh.

3.45 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee calls Prime Minister Narendra Modi a liar and criticises the BJP on the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship (Amendment Bill) 2016, PTI reports. She also claims that the Trinamool Congress will lead the formation of the new government at the Centre.

“Prime Minister Modi is a liar. He has been blabbering lies in the last five years,” she says at a rally at Barobisha area of Alipurduar district. “He has not fulfilled a single promises he made in 2014...The NRC and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill are another ploy to turn legal citizens of this country into refugees.”

3.12 pm: Congress releases another list of five candidates from Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, ANI reports. Shatrughan Sinha, former BJP leader who joined the Congress earlier in the day, was announced the party’s Patna Sahib candidate. He will contest against Union minister and BJP leader Ravi Shakar Prasad.

2.22 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati says senior BJP leader LK Advani’s remarks in a blog post earlier this week were a “reality check” on the functioning of the saffron party. “BJP patriarch LK Advani’s reality check admonition on the functioning of the BJP/Modi govt on the party’s foundation day is a serious no-confidence against them besides a fervent appeal to the people that this despotic/anti-people Modi Govt is unworthy of returning back to power,” she says on Twitter.

2.20 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu releases the Telugu Desam Party’s manifesto. “Manifestos have become a farce nowadays,” he says. “Some parties claim that they will do many things, they don’t even know intricacies. But we have clear vision. We have fulfilled many promises, more than the said ones.”

2.16 pm: Dimple Yadav, the Samajwadi Party’s candidate from Kannauj, files nomination, ANI reports.

1.57 pm: “Generation after generations the Congress was able to give only slogans for the eradication of poverty,” says Modi, according to The Indian Express. “People got poorer and their ministers got richer.”

1.55 pm: Narendra Modi says once the BJP forms government in the state and at the Centre, Odisha will be recognised for tourism instead of migration, reports News18. “This election isn’t for electing an MLA, MP or a PM. It’s for building a New India and future of your children.”

1.52 pm: Samajwadi Party leader Dimple Yadav says the victory margin will be huge since there is an alliance between SP-BSP, reports ANI. “BJP did not fulfill its promises and now to divert attention, BJP is using the security forces. It has been a failed government.”

1.40 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the Congress and the Biju Janata Dal use the poor for politics, reports ANI. “This is the reason a large part of India including Odisha was under immense poverty for so many decades, this situation was then misused by Maoists.” Modi is addressing a rally at Sonepur, Odisha.

1.23 pm: Adityanath says the government led by Narendra Modi displayed its strength when China tried to enter India’s borders and threaten the country’s security. “For the first time China was forced to retreat,” he says.

1.21 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath says when the whole nation praised the government when it took action against terrorist camps in Pakistan, the Congress questioned the move. “We want a Congress mukt country,” he says at Hojai, Assam, according to News18.

1.18 pm: Sinha says there was no concept of collective decision within the BJP, reports News18. He says the party disowned him as he was associated with veteran leader LK Advani. He praises Congress chief Rahul Gandh, saying he is the future of the nation.

1.14 pm: When asked if his wife would contest against Union minister Rajnath Singh in Lucknow, Singh says “anything can happen”, reports ANI. Sinha confirms he will contest from Patna Sahib constituency in Bihar.

1.08 pm: Sinha says there was no progress in the BJP, except for the rise of dictatorship, reports The Indian Express. “BJP has kicked out all the good people with humble intention from the party... Everyone is scared of Modiji in the BJP. Even the MPs are scared of the prime minister. There was no development in secularism or in the actions of the saffron party.”

12.55 pm: “In the one-man show, two-men army, everything happens from Prime Minister’s Office... the ministers can’t work freely anyway,” Sinha says, according to NDTV.

12.20 pm: Rebel BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha joins the Congress.

Read more here: Former BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha joins Congress, named Patna Sahib candidate

12.02 pm: Modi says the Biju Janata Dal government in Odisha has obstructed financial assistance to farmers, free treatment to the poor under Ayushman Yojana. “It shows that they have evil and doubtful intentions,” he says.

11.53 am: “No party ever thought of carrying out air strike and surgical strike,” Modi says. “It’s indicative of strengthening India. A strong government is necessary for strong and empowered India.”

11.50 am: Modi claims BJP workers are killed in Kerala and West Bengal. “However, it doesn’t deter BJP karyakartas.” The prime minister is addressing a rally at Sundergarh, Odisha.

11.48 am: Modi says the BJP was not founded on borrowed ideology. “It has taken birth from the aspirations of the people of India,” he says. “We aren’t based on a family or money. Karyakartas and their hard work have made this party.”

11.46 am: Modi says: “Today, BJP has government in all four corners of the country. People have embraced the BJP and it’s in their heart. It’s one of the largest democratic political party. People from all section of the society are becoming part of the BJP.”

11.41 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says there are many parties that are made of money, but the BJP was built by the aspirations of its karyakartas, reports ANI. “It’s not a PM who is visiting Sundergarh,” he says. “A pradhan sewak of Odisha has come here.”

11.36 am: A delegation of Indian Union Muslim League arrives at the Election Commission’s office in Delhi to lodge a complaint against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for calling the party a virus, reports ANI.

11.30 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a rally in Sundergarh, Odisha, reports ANI.

11.21 am: YSR Congress Party releases its manifesto, reports The Indian Express. Party chief Jagan Mohan Reddy promises 20 lakh houses for the poor in the next five years and a ban on alcohol. He says alcohol will only be allowed at five-star hotels.

11.15 am: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati says senior BJP leader LK Advani’s blog is a “serious no-confidence” against BJP and an appeal to the people that “despotic/anti-people Modi govt is unworthy of returning back to power.”

10.55 am: YSR Congress Party Jaganmohan Reddy says the Telugu Desam Party’s 2014 manifesto is nothing but a document to fool people, reports The Indian Express.

10.50 am: Union minister Sushma Swaraj criticises Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. Swaraj tweets: “Rahulji - Advani ji is our father figure. Your words have hurt us deeply. Please try to maintain some decorum of your speech.”

Gandhi had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of humiliating BJP veteran LK Advani. “BJP talks of Hinduism,” Gandhi said on Friday. “In Hinduism, guru is supreme. It talks of guru-shishya tradition. Who is Modi’s guru? Advani. Modi just kicked Advani out.”

10.38 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi expresses confidence that its workers would be working day and night to ensure that the party and its allies are blessed by people in the Lok Sabha polls.

“The BJP stands tall due to its democratic ethos and patriotic zeal,” Modi says. “This is a party that is always on the ground, at the forefront of helping fellow Indians. Our development work has endeared the Party to all sections of society, across the length and breadth of India.”

10.31 am: Actor Vivek Oberoi, who stars in the biopic PM Narendra Modi, says powerful people who approached courts through their lawyers tried to obstruct the film’s release. “They can obstruct us briefly but they won’t be able to stop us,” ANI quotes him as saying. “The release might have been postponed but we are firm in our resolve.”

10.26 am: BJP chief Amit Shah begins a road show at Vejalpur area of Ahmedabad, reports ANI.

10.24 am: Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit, state in-charge PC Chacko, and other party leaders arrive at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s residence, reports ANI.

10.22 am: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin claims he has sensed the mood of the public and they are fed up of Narendra Modi and Edappadi K Palaniswami. “People want to put a full stop to these governments,” he says, according to ANI.

10.20 am: Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan says no action was taken against BJP leaders Adityanath and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who referred to the Indian Army as “Modiji ki Sena” or against Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, reports ANI. “But when I had said we will shed last drop of our blood to protect our borders, EC [Election Commission] cut off my tongue,” says Khan. “What justice is this?”

9.15 am: Indian Overseas Congress chief Sam Pitroda praises BJP leader LK Advani’s blog. “I think what he [Advani] has said is so very timely [and] very important,” says Pitroda, according to ANI. “He has basically said two things. One- first nation, then party, then self. Modi today is all about self-promotion.”

Pitroda says: “Two, he talked about the fact that if somebody disagrees with us, doesn’t mean they are anti-national. I respect that, I agree with him. I thank him for doing this at the right time. That is a leader.”

9.10 am: The Election Commission removed the Kolkata police commissioner and three other senior officers in West Bengal. Rajesh Kumar replaced Anuj Sharma as Kolkata police chief. Opposition parties in the state have welcomed the move.

9 am: Here are the top updates from Friday:

  • The Election Commission asked Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath to be careful in his political speeches after he referred to the Army as “Modiji ki Sena”.
  • The Election Commission wrote to NITI Aayog Vice Chairperson Rajiv Kumar, rejecting his response to a notice about his remarks criticising the Congress’ Nyuntam Aay Yojana.
  • PM Narendra Modi, the movie based on the prime minister’s life, will be released on April 11, the first day of polling in the Lok Sabha elections. The movie was originally scheduled to be released on Friday.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised the Gandhi family over a chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate in the VVIP chopper scam. He cited the chargesheet to make allegations against Congress MP Ahmed Patel, a close aide of former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
  • Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan announced that she will not be contesting the Lok Sabha elections.
  • Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath called the Muslim League a virus that divided the country during the independence movement.