10.45 pm: Here are the day’s top stories:

  • The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday released its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the manifesto is a document for good governance, a manifesto for national security and for prosperity. The Congress, meanwhile, called the manifesto a “jumla manifesto” and a “balloon of lies”. 
  • The Supreme Court ordered that Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail slips of five electronic voting machines in every constituency should be counted instead of just one EVM in the upcoming elections.
  • National Conference Chief Farooq Abdullah said that if the BJP repeals Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the state will “get freedom” from the rest of India. The BJP, in its election manifesto, reiterated its intent of abrogating Article 370.
  • Mamata Banerjee said Narendra Modi should be ousted from politics and his mouth should be sealed with tape.
  • The Supreme Court refused to pass an order yet on a plea seeking a stay on the release of a biopic on Narendra Modi as the Central Board of Film Certification is yet to certify the film. PM Narendra Modi will be released on April 11, the first day of voting for the Lok Sabha elections.
  • Facebook detailed its efforts to combat fake news and the spread of misinformation ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in India.  

10 pm: Congress’ Himachal Pradesh unit president Kuldeep Singh Rathore says Modi had promised to increase the import duty on apples before the last Lok Sabha elections, but had done nothing during his tenure as prime minister, PTI reports. Rathore accused Modi of being the “biggest liar” in the country.

9.50 pm: Janata Dal (Secular) chief HD Devegowda says the country is looking towards the leadership of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu naidu. “Who is going to challenge Modi is an issue that has been going on in the media,” Devegowda says, according to PTI. “Naidu is the person taking up the challenge saying ‘I am only the person, I can challenge’.”

Naidu has taken the lead to fight Modi’s undemocratic ways of destroying democratic institutions, the former prime minister says. Naidu has taken the lead to consolidate all secular regional parties and given a challenge to Modi, he added.

9.45 pm: Congress leaders in Mumbai Milind Deora, Urmila Matondkar and Priya Dutt file nominations for the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra, PTI reports. While Matondkar is contesting from Mumbai North seat, Priya Dutt is fielded from Mumbai North Central seat. Deora is contesting from Mumbai South seat.

9.15 pm: The Income Tax Department has detected a racket of collection of unaccounted cash of about Rs 281 crore through various persons, says the Central Board of Direct Taxes, according to ANI. “A part of the cash was also transferred to the headquarter of a major political party in Delhi including about Rs 20 crore which was moved through hawala recently to the headquarter of the political party from the residence of a senior functionary at Tughlak Road, New Delhi,” it says.

The Income Tax Department on Sunday had conducted searches at the Indore home of Praveen Kakkad, an officer on special duty to Chief Minister Kamal Nath. The chief minister said the BJP has resorted to such action to “draw advantage in the election” as it was facing an imminent defeat. Nath claimed the ruling party had adopted “similar tactics” during the Assembly elections last year.

8.45 pm: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao says his party, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, will support the demand for special status for Andhra Pradesh. “The YSRCP is going to form the government in Andhra and we will work together for the development of both states,” Rao says, according to News18.

8.25 pm: Congress fields Kirti Azad from Dhanbad Lok Sabha constituency in Jharkhand and Kalicharan Munda from Khunti seat in the state.

7.35 pm: BJP’s Rampur Lok Sabha seat candidate Jaya Prada says she is fighting the elections to restore the pride of women in the constituency. She says she wants to free the constituency from the illegal grip of her former Samajwadi Party colleague Azam Khan, PTI reports.

Jaya Prada has won from Rampur in 2004 and 2009 when she was a Samajwadi Party leader, but lost from Bijnor in 2014, when she contested on a Rashtriya Lok Dal ticket.
“Azam, who has been nine-time MLA from Rampur, has done nothing for rural areas,” she says, according to PTI. “He had been a Cabinet minister but rural areas still lack development as he did nothing.”

7.30 pm: The Congress demands a ban on two private television channels for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct by airing content praising the BJP government’s schemes, PTI reports. The Congress’ Maharashtra unit says the Election Commission should file cases against the makers and the actors of the television shows as well as the BJP.

The Congress has submitted video clips from the two serials to the Election Commission, says Maharashtra Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant.

6.54 pm: A lawyer has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking to ban National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti from contesting the Lok Sabha elections, claiming that their statements have been “seditious”, PTI reports. The plea moved by advocate Sanjjiiv Kkumaar has also sought a direction to book them under various charges, including sedition and inciting hatred, of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act.

6.50 pm: Congress candidate from Telangana’s Chevella constituency Konda Vishweswar Reddy claims there is no democracy under the rule of the K Chandrasekhar Rao government, NDTV reports. “Once the Telangana Rashtra Samithi won the [2014] elections, they took a U-turn, reneging on those very promises for which we fought for Telangana,” he says. Reddy had quit the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and joined the Congress.

“Nizam’s rule went decades ago but KCR has turned into the new Nizam and his son KCR is the crown prince,” Reddy alleges.

6.45 pm: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar has labelled Narendra Modi as a “national calamity” who needs to be defeated at the polls, PTI reports. “We can run the country well. Modi need not worry about our ability,” he says in Amravati. Pawar also tells Modi not to worry about a feud in his family. “You need not worry. You never had a home in your life,” he says.

6.40 pm: Karnataka Congress leader Siddaramaiah issues a video appeal asking workers of his party and the Janata Dal (Secular) to back Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy in the Mandya constituency, PTI reports. Local Congress leaders and workers have been strongly opposed to the seat being given to the Janata Dal (Secular), and said they will not campaign for Nikhil Kumaraswamy.

6.33 pm: BJP chief Amit Shah visits the residences of veteran party leaders Murli Manohar Joshi and Lal Krishna Advani, NDTV reports. Both leaders have been denied tickets for the Lok Sabha elections.

6 pm: Home Minister Rajnath Singh says the government has no option but to abolish Articles 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir if leaders talk of having a separate prime minister for the region, PTI reports. Singh made the remark at a rally in Suchetgarh, Jammu and Kashmir.

This comes after former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had supported the idea of a separate prime minister for the state.

5.25 pm: The Nationalist Congress Party calls the BJP’s poll manifesto a “gimmick” and asks the party to give an account of the implementation of promises made ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Nawab Malik says the BJP, for years, has promised to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and scrap Article 35A, and construct the Ram temple, but it had not fulfilled these promises, PTI reports.

5.20 pm: Shiv Sena welcomes the BJP’s poll manifesto. “Efforts should be made now to construct the temple in the next tenure,” Shiv Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande says, according to PTI.

5.15 pm: Congress fields Pravas Kar Mohapatra as its candidate for Moroda Assembly seat in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj where the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha has already announced its nominee for the same constituency. The Congress, JMM, Communist Party of India, and Communist Party of India (Marxist) had earlier agreed to enter into seat arrangement in order to win in maximum seats, PTI reports.

“We will support JMM in Mayurbhanj Lok Sabha seat, but not in Morada assembly segment,” PTI quotes Mohaptra as saying. The JMM has named Kalinga Keshari Jena as its candidate from the seat.

4.52 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi will file his nomination papers from the Amethi Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday, reports PTI. He will hold a roadshow in Gauriganj town. Amethi will vote on May 6.

4.42 pm: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha thanks BJP for allowing the Gorkha community to present its demands. “Whenever we have sought to assert our political and constitution rights, we have been labelled as separatists, terrorists, and at times even as foreigners,” says GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri, according to News18. “The inclusion of 11 left-out Gorkha Tribes as Scheduled Tribes of India, will cement the place of Gorkhas as being indigenous to our nation forever.”

4.34 pm: Akhilesh Yadav says the alliance of SP, BSP and RLD has exceeded all expectations. “People say history doesn’t change. But I have faith in the people of Ghaziabad, they will create history. Not a single vote should get split,” he adds. “You voters are here on the ground, the BJP is on the TV screen. People of Ghaziabad, I know you will create history.”

4.32 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav says the electorate is demanding a change. “Voter can commit mistake once, but they will not commit a mistake again,” he says in Ghaziabad.

4.21 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati says the BJP has no moral rights to present an election manifesto. “Instead of this, they should have presented an action report of the promises they made in the last election,” she says at a rally in Gautam Buddha Nagar.

4.07 pm: An organisation of Kashmiri pandit migrants asks the Election Commission to ban candidates of the National Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party from contesting the Lok Sabha elections, reports PTI. They are running a “seditious and secessionist” campaign in the Valley, alleges Panun Kashmir.

4.03 pm: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot says the four BJP ministers contesting from the state are in a “weak position” as voters are unhappy with them. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is contesting from Jodhpur, PP Chaudhary from Pali, Rajyavardhan Rathore from Jaipur rural and Arjun Ram Meghwal from Bikaner.

Addressing a rally in Barmer, he says, “Those who won elections for the first time were made ministers whereas four-time MP Dushyant Singh, the son of former chief minister Vasundhara Raje was not given a chance. This is the state of affairs in BJP which is going to lose elections.”

3.52 pm: The Congress will do away with the application fee on central government examinations if voted to power, promises party president Rahul Gandhi in a Facebook post.

3.47 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath says Mayawati has insulted Kanshiram and Ambedkar by seeking the Muslim votes. “Agar unhe keval Muslim vote chahiye to swabhavik roop se doosra vote bhi tay kar lega ki kahan jana hai (If she only wants the Muslim votes, others will also obviously decide which party to vote for),” he adds.

On Sunday, Mayawati had asked Muslim voters to shun the Congress and vote for the SP-BSP alliance.

3.44 pm: Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik says his party will give free education to girls if voted to power. At a rally in Komna in Nuapada district, the chief minister announces Rs 25,000 assistance for marriage of poor girls.

3.43 pm: Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora, party candidates Urmila Matondkar and Priya Dutt, and Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant file their nominations, reports PTI. Matondkar will contest against BJP’s Gopal Shetty in Mumbai North seat while Priya Dutt is in fray from the Mumbai North Central seat. Deora and Sawant are contesting from Mumbai South seat.

3.17 pm: Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu is the richest among 184 candidates contesting the state elections, according to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms. He has assets more than Rs 163 crore, while 130 other candidates are also crorepatis. Polling for simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections will be held in the state on April 11.

2.50 pm: Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien comes up with an acronym to criticise the BJP manifesto. “Please J-U-D-G-E BJP’s manifesto on what’s missing there. J-U-D-G-E, that is : Jobs, Underperformance, Demonetisation, GST implementation, Economy,” he says.

2.45 pm: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi’s joint rallies in Saharanpur, Shamli and Bijnor have been cancelled due to bad weather. “We are planning Priyanka ji’s road show tomorrow,” Imran Masood, the Congress candidate from Saharanpur, tells ANI.

2.43 pm: Congress leader Siddaramaiah says the BJP manifesto is a rehashed version of the 2014 document.

2.41 pm: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah criticises the BJP manifesto on the points related to Kashmir. “Recently J&K governor claimed there was no threat to Article 370 & 35-A and that parties like mine were only using them to drum up fear in the elections. I hope his colleagues in the BJP send him a copy of their manifesto,” he tweeted.

2.40 pm: Mamata Banerjee says there are families consisting of people from different religions staying together in India. “But how would he [PM Modi] know? He neither has his own family nor he thinks of you people as his family,” she adds.

Read more here

‘Seal Modi’s lips so that he doesn’t tell lies,’ says Mamata Banerjee

2.39 pm: At the Cooch Behar rally, Mamata Banerjee says agencies were being sent for those who oppose the BJP. “They cannot achieve anything by transferring police officers,” she adds.

2.31 pm: Aam Admi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal criticises the BJP manifesto, and calls it a fresh set of jumlas. “What happened to two crore jobs? Why were farmers pushed towards destruction?” he asks.

2.30 pm: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee addresses a rally in Cooch Behar. “Did PM even give a single penny for West Bengal?” she asks. “The person who makes such big claims must see what he has contributed towards Bengal. He was busy in foreign tours for five years and now he saw the need to come here.” Narendra Modi was in Cooch Behar last week.

2.26 pm: Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant says members from the minority community will vote for the BJP. “The minority community voters are educated, they read national newspapers, watch television and are aware about development undertaken by the Modi government. They are with the BJP,” he adds.

2.24 pm: Posters have come up in parts of Wayanad, from where Congress President Rahul Gandhi is contesting, asking farmers and plantation workers to boycott the April 23 elections, reports PTI. The posters are suspected to have been put up by Maoists. Wayanad District Police chief R Karuppasamy says they have beefed up security and will get additional paramilitary forces.

2.18 pm: Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya says Samajwadi Party chief Akhliesh Yadav will ditch BSP President Mayawati after May 23 after the Lok Sabha election results are announced. “And then, only the BJP will support her,” he tells PTI.

2.15 pm: Surjewala says the BJP in 2014 had promised 2 crore jobs annually. “But today, unemployment is highest in 45 years,” he points out.

Read more here

Congress says BJP has released a ‘jumla manifesto’, lists out promises not fulfilled from 2014

2.14 pm: Congress spokesperson RS Surjewala says Modi is drunk in power. “The media asked more than a dozen questions to Rahul Gandhi when the Congress launched its manifesto,” he says. “But Narendra Modi, who is drunk in power, did not allow any journalists to question him.”

2.13 pm: Gowda says both Narendra Modi and Amit Shah campaign in the North East but do not utter a word of the Citizenship Amendment Bill. “But now it finds a mention in the manifesto.”

2.11 pm: Congress leader Rajeev Gowda says there are several contradictions in the economic promises made in BJP’s manifesto. “They say that they will reduce taxes and then they say we will increase taxes,” Gowda adds.

2.08 pm: Congress spokesperson RS Surjewala says that the BJP leaders did not bother to speak about demonetisation or GST.

2.07 pm: The Congress says none of the BJP leaders spoke about employment. “125 crore Indians are questioning 125 promises made by Mr. Modi in 2014,” says the Congress.

2.04 pm: “You [BJP] can’t mislead everyone, all the time,” Congress leaders says at a press conference.

2.02 pm: “What happened to the promises they had made in 2014?” asks Congress leader Ahmed Patel. “What about the promises made to youth and farmers?”

2.01 pm: The Congress says the BJP’s manifesto is just a one-man show.

1.51 pm: Congress leader Ahmed Patel says that while his party’s manifesto is about the public, the BJP’s manifesto is about “I, mine and my arrogance”. “They should have released an apology letter instead of a manifesto,” he says.

1.50 pm: The Supreme Court posts hearing on the Modi biopic on Tuesday, PTI reports. The court says the order can be passed if the petitioner brings on record that what the film depicts is highly objectionable. The bench also points out that the Central Board of Film Certification is yet to certify the film.

Read more here

Narendra Modi biopic: Supreme Court refuses to pass order on plea seeking stay on release of film

1.43 pm: Congress leader Ahmed Patel calls the BJP’s manifesto a “balloon of lies”.

1.03 pm: “2019 is a foundation to make India a developed nation by 2047, the 100th year of independence,” Modi says.

In his letter in the manifesto, Modi writes: “The BJP pledges to make the next five years as the foundation laying period for India of 2047. Let us together lay the foundations of this vision now, and work earnestly towards translating this vision into a golden reality.”

Read more here

Narendra Modi says BJP manifesto is a document for good governance, national security and prosperity

1.02 pm: Modi says the manifesto is one of good governance, national security and prosperity.

12.58 pm: “Only the poor can remove poverty, so we want to ensure empowerment of the poor,” he says.

12.56 pm: Modi thanks the media and the youth for help in making cleanliness a public movement.

12.53 pm: “I have had to do in five years the work that should have been done in the period of 1950s and 1960s,” says Modi.

12.48 pm: Modi speaks of “multi-layered development” because the same parameters cannot be applied to every diverse section. He says the manifesto is also “multi-dimensional”.

12.43 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the manifesto, for the first time, has goals for 2022 instead of 2024, so that “we can be tested against our promises during the tenure also”.

12.31 pm: The BJP’s manifesto promises to ensure that the subject of faith, traditions and rituals related to the Sabarimala temple are “presented in a comprehensive manner before the Supreme Court”. “We will endeavour to secure constitutional protection on issues related to faith and belief,” the manifesto says.

12.28 pm: The BJP manifesto says it is committed to ensuring 33% reservation for women in Parliament and state Assemblies through a constitutional amendment.

12.26 pm: The Supreme Court orders that VVPAT slips be used to verify votes for five EVMs instead of one currently, per Assembly constituency, reports Bar and Bench.

Also read: Supreme Court orders counting of VVPAT paper slips of five EVMs in every constituency

12.25 pm: The manifesto is “rooted in Indian realities”, and has not been prepared with the “tukde tukde or Ivy League mindset”, says Union minister Arun Jaitley.

12.24 pm: The manifesto promises to scrap Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution, which provide special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

12.19 pm: The BJP promises to increase the doctor-population ratio to one per 1,400 by 2022.

12.09 pm: The BJP promises short-term farm loans up to Rs 1 lakh at zero interest rate for five years on Kisan credit cards.

12.08 pm: “We had a zero tolerance policy towards terrorism, it will continue till terror is not eliminated completely,” says Singh.

12.06 pm: “We will get the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill passed in both Houses of Parliament, but we will protect the identity of every state,” says Singh. “We will explore all possibilities on Ram temple, and we will make efforts to get it done as soon as possible in a harmonious way.”

12.03 pm: “We are taking a step towards building a New India,” says Rajnath Singh. India has developed a crisis of credibility because of the differences between the words and deeds of its political leaders in the past, he says, adding: “We accepted it as a challenge and succeeded in overcoming it.”

12.01 pm: Rajnath Singh says the party conducted a long programme to know “Bharat ke Mann ki Baat” before preparing its manifesto.

11.58 am: Rajnath Singh, who headed the manifesto committee, is now speaking.

11.55 am: The manifesto is based on inputs of 6 crore people, says Shah.

11.53 am: “We promise a decisive, transparent, sensitive government,” says Amit Shah. “This is the election for the fulfilment of people’s expectations.”

11.50 am: Amit Shah says the BJP has a vision with 75 goals to fulfil until 2022, the 75th year of India’s independence.

11.47 am: “Narendra Modi government has taken more than 50 huge steps in five years that will be historic,” Shah says, adding that not much work usually happens in multiparty democratic structures.

11.43 am: Shah lists achievements of the Modi government – from electricity, LPG connections and toilets to “surgical strikes” and improving the economy. “India’s glory declined from 2004 to 2014,” he says. “This has changed in the last five years under Modi.”

11.40 am: BJP President Amit Shah is now speaking. “Whenever the history of India’s development is written, the journey from 2014 to 2019 will be written in golden letters,” he says.

11.38 am: Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are now seated on the stage for the launch of the BJP manifesto at the party’s headquarters.

11.36 am: Congress leader Priya Dutt arrives at the Bandra collector office to file her nomination, reports ANI.

11.31 am: In an interview with PTI news agency, Nitin Gadkari says, “The way in which he [Rahul Gandhi] speaks about the prime minister is not good. A prime minister does not belong to a party but the country and it is the duty of every citizen to respect and recognise the prime minister as a prime minister. Rahul Gandhi unfortunately uses very bad terminology.”

11.25 am: Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley are already present at the venue ahead of the release of the BJP’s manifesto.

11.24 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived at the BJP headquarters, where the party’s manifesto will be released shortly.

11.21 am: Union minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari tells Rahul Gandhi to “respect Narendra Modi as prime minister” and not level corruption allegations against him, PTI reports.

11.16 am: Actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar, who will contest the Mumbai North constituency on a Congress ticket, says she will file her nomination later in the day.

11.14 am: Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill tells ANI that the BJP should launch a maafi patra (apology letter) instead of a sankalp patra (manifesto).

11.08 am: The Supreme Court issues a notice to the Election Commission on a petition seeking strict action against political party leaders and spokespersons who make remarks about religion or caste, reports Bar and Bench.

Read more here

SC issues notice to poll body on plea against political speeches with references to religion, caste

10.53 am: “The minute you ask questions to BJP or PM you are called anti-national,” says Pilot in Hyderabad. “You say why is there inflation, why are farmers committing suicide, we are told “Go to Pakistan”. This sort of rhetoric, based on emotions don’t serve India’s election well.”

10.52 am: Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot accuses the incumbent Telangana government of buying legislators and creating an environment of fear.

10.50 am: RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav says his party’s proposed blueprint in the manifesto is going to help uplift the poor and farmers in the society. “RJD has always favoured reservation in private sector. We will ensure it becomes a reality,” he says at the party’s manifesto launch.

10.45 am: Thirty-seven people quit the BJP in Nagaland, reports Morung Express. “We cannot agree with the principles and philosophy of the BJP in general particularly Hindutva policy, the present dispensation in the state led by the state president and the behaviour and functioning of the organising secretary Anantha Mishra is highly objectionable and abominable,” reads their joint resignation letter.

10.37 am: Reddy says this election will be a battle between credibility versus betrayal. “We have no faith in the national parties,” he says. “Both the Congress and the BJP have betrayed us.”

10.36 am: YSR Congress Party chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy accuses both the Congress and the BJP of failing Andhra Pradesh. In an interview to the Hindustan Times, Reddy says Chandrababu Naidu has betrayed Andhra Pradesh’s people. “His entire governance, his promises of 2014 and what he delivered… all have fallen flat,” he says. “This also includes the special category status. He was with the BJP for four years and his MPs were in the NDA Cabinet. Yet he did nothing about it.”

10.28 am: Apna Dal names Pakauri Lal Kol its candidate from Robertsganj Parliamentary constituency.

10.24 am: National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah alleges that the central government knew about the Pulwama attack, but allowed it to happen to help Prime Minister Narendra Modi win the elections. “It is their [Centre’s] mistake,” Abdullah says. “They knew that the attack was going to happen. Where did the explosives come from? PM Modi had to win the elections, so he did this ‘karnama’ [misadventure].”

Read more here

Centre allowed Pulwama attack to happen to help PM Modi win elections, claims Farooq Abdullah

10.22 am: BSP chief Mayawati’s speech in Deoband on Sunday is now under the Election Commission’s scanner, reports The Indian Express. Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer has sought a factual report from the Saharanpur administration on the speech during which the former chief minister reportedly urged Muslims to not vote for the Congress.

10.18 am: BJP President Amit Shah will meet veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi – who have been denied tickets this Lok Sabha election – before launching the party’s manifesto, reports NDTV.

10.17 am: Congress chief in western Uttar Pradesh Jyotiraditya Scindia says the party is open to a post poll alliance with the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. In an interview to The Times of India, he says: “We did reach out but for whatever reasons, it didn’t happen. However, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen in future. Maybe a post-poll alliance. The doors are always open.”

9.58 am: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar says Prime Minister Narendra Modi acts against terror and works for the common people. At a campaign rally on Sunday, the JD(U) chief called the Congress manifesto useless. “We have come to seek votes from you on the basis of the work,” he said. “I have done development work in last 13 years and I am seeking wages for it from you.”

9.35 am: The Rashtriya Janata Dal releases its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections.

9.25 am: The home minister says he is astounded to learn that the Congress has called for the abolition of sedition law. “No calls for freedom of expression can abridge the offence of trying to break the country,” he tells The Hindu. “Such a freedom of expression is not acceptable to me, and I cannot condone any scrapping of the law that allows for talking about, or conspiring to, breaking the country.”

9.23 am: Rajnath Singh denies politicising matters of national security. “Where have we done that?” he asks. “We have only appreciated the valour of our armed forces, along with the rest of the country, and ask that others do so too.

9.21 am: Rajnath Singh claims the poor have benefited immensely from the central government schemes like Ujjwala, the Aawaas Yojana and the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi. Citing a survey by a Brookings Institute, Singh says the number of people suffering abject poverty has come down from 12.5 crore in 2016 to about 5 crore in 2019.

9.17 am: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh says the Congress has no ideology and accuses it of trying to fool the people with its minimum income scheme. In an interview to The Hindu, he says, “This is not a clash of ideologies because I believe that there is only one party with an ideology, and that is the BJP.”

9.15 am: Jaitley says the surgical strikes and the Balakot airstrike are a turning point in India’s history. “The airstrikes and surgical strikes have established that India will now reach the point of origin wherever it is to strike at the root of terror and conduct pre-emptive strikes, if need be,” he says. Jaitley says national security and India’s sovereignty are agendas for this election. “Is national security not a relevant issue?” he asks.

9.11 am: Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley says the Lok Sabha elections are all about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Take Modi away and 90% speeches of the Opposition leaders will be over,” he tells The Indian Express in an interview.

8.45 am: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan trade barbs amid reports that the state police and Central Reserve Police Force personnel entered into an argument during Income Tax raids in the state. Nath alleges that the ruling BJP is misusing state bodies against opponents. Chouhan claims Nath is trying to save the corrupt by stopping the proceedings of the Income Tax Department.

Read more here

Madhya Pradesh I-T raids: Kamal Nath, Shivraj Singh Chouhan trade barbs over CRPF-state police clash

8.43 am: The Election Commission issues an advisory urging enforcement agencies to be neutral, impartial and non-discriminatory during the election period, reports the Hindustan Times.

Read more here

EC asks enforcement agencies to act neutral during elections

8.34 am: The Bharatiya Janata Party is expected to release its manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls today. The party is likely to highlight matter of development and national security.

Here are the top updates from Sunday:

  • The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congresslaunched their campaign slogans on Sunday. While the BJP’s song is “Phir se Modi Sarkar Banate Hai”, Congress’ slogan is “Ab Hoga Nyay”.
  • The SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh held its first joint campaign rally for the coming Lok Sabha elections in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh. Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav and Ajit Singh attacked both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. They said the two parties were not very different from each other.    
  • The leaders of 21 Opposition parties have filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that a delay of 5.2 days in the declaration of election results due to the counting of 50% VVPAT slips is not a serious one if it maintains the integrity of the process. The Supreme Court is expected to continue hearing the case on Monday.    
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday addressed a rally in Cooch Behar in West Bengal, where he called Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee a “speed breaker” and claimed she was having sleepless nights because of his popularity.    
  • Uttar Pradesh CM Adityanath claimed voting for Congress will strengthen terrorism and Naxalism. 
  • The Election Commission defended its decision to transfer four West Bengal police officials, and said the move was within its rights.