10.45 pm: Here are the top stories of the day-

  • AAP MP Sanjay Singh ruled out the possibility of an alliance with the Congress and claimed that the Rahul Gandhi-led outfit wants the Bharatiya Janata Party to win the Lok Sabha polls. “In Delhi, where the Congress has no presence, they want to give us three seats,” Singh said.
  • The Trinamool Congress submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission of India alleging bias in its decision to transfer West Bengal police officers ahead of Lok Sabha elections.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the Congress of an “election scam”, claiming that the party had looted the money meant “for the poor and pregnant women” in the country. Modi said the Opposition party is known by many names as far as scams are concerned.
  • Gujarat MLA Alpesh Thakor and two other lawmakers quit the Congress after Thakor Kshatriya Sena, the outfit founded by him, decided to withdraw its support to the party. MLA Dhavalsinh Thakor and MLA Bharatji Thakor are the other two legislators who quit the Rahul Gandhi-led party. 
  • The Election Commission of India stayed the release of PM Narendra Modi, a biopic on the prime minister, until the end of polling. The film was slated to be released on April 11. 
  • The Election Commission issued a show cause notice to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao for allegedly making derogatory remarks against the Hindu community at a rally last month. The poll panel said it had found Rao prima facie guilty in the matter.  
  • Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed that there is a better chance of talks with India if the Bharatiya Janata Party returns to power in the Lok Sabha elections. Khan said that the Congress, if it comes to power, might be too scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Kashmir due to fears of a backlash from the right-wing.

10.11 pm: The poll panel orders the producers of Laxmi’s NTR, a film that is believed to have the ability to “diminish the electoral prospect” of the Andhra Pradesh’s Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, not to screen the film until further notice. The film is based on former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister NT Rama Rao.

10.10 pm: The Election Commission asks the producers of Udyama Simham to refrain from screening the film which is considered to be a biopic of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao until it allows them to. The poll panel cites the Election Model Code of Conduct as a reason for its decision.

10.04 pm: The Communist Party of India urges the Election Commission to form slabs based on income tax returns of political parties to ascertain the rate of advertising of criminal history of election candidates, PTI reports. CPI Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam tells the EC that advertising was too expensive for certain parties.

10.03 pm: Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala says India is tired of the Prime Minister’s fake acronyms. “It is extremely childish, imprudent, unacceptable and flimsy,” Surjewala says. “This country cannot be run on acronyms. Is this election about who can make better acronyms or is it election about who can make a better India.”

10.02 pm: Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav urges people in Bihar to drive away “anti-reservation and anti-Constitution Narendra Modi”, PTI reports. In an open letter to the people, Yadav says he wondered if “disruptive forces by getting me imprisoned in this manner will again succeed in scripting any conspiracy in Bihar.”

9.30 pm: More than 900 artistes and people from the field of literature come out in support of the BJP and ask people to vote for a “majboot sarkar [strong government]” and not a “majboor sarkar [helpless government]”. The statement issued under the banner of “Nation First Collective”. Pandit Jasraj, Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Shankar Mahadevan, Malini Awasthi, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, among others, have signed it.

In the last five years, the country has seen a government that has delivered corruption-free good governance and development oriented administration, they have said in the statement, according to IANS. “It is our firm conviction that the continuance of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the need of the hour,” they have said.

8.45 pm: Assam Congress moved the Election Commission alleging cash and liquor was distributed in the five Lok Sabha constituencies in the state that go to polls in the first phase of elections on Thursday. Assam Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Diganta Chaudhury alleges that many BJP leaders, including ministers, MLAs, MPs and other party workers are openly distributing money and liquor.

“Though specific incidents were reported to the district administration of Sonitpur, Biswanath, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat and Golaghat, no concrete steps have been initiated against the offenders,” Chaudhury says in the complaint.

The five constituencies are Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Kaliabor, Tezpur and Lakhimpur.

8.30 pm: West Bengal Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury takes a jibe at Mamata Banerjee saying she is a core committee member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. His statement comes after Banerjee alleged that the RSS is supporting Congress candidates in Murshidabad district.

“How did she know who is being supported by the RSS? It seems she is a core-committee member of the RSS,” PTI quotes Chowdhury, a former Union minister, as saying. “Everybody knows who had compromised with the BJP in the state.”

Chowdhury is contesting from Beharampore Lok Sabha seat of Murshidabad district.

8.22 pm: Two groups of BJP workers clash during Maharashtra Minister Girish Mahajan’s public meeting in Jalgaon, ANI reports.

7.50 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh writes to poll panel about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged violation of election rules, PTI reports. Singh demands that the Election Commission take action against Modi for his “disgraceful speech in Maharashtra”. Singh says Modi used the success of the Balakot air strikes by the Indian Air Force to woo the first-time voters.

7.46 pm: BJP President Amit Shah holds a roadshow in Yelahanka in Bengaluru.

7.44 pm: Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora appeals to voters to cast their votes, ANI reports. “Our efforts will be fructified if each one of us who is an elector shows adequate zeal and faith in democratic system,” Arora says.

7.41 pm: Modi says BJP boosted tourism in Goa. “From 1990-2000, in ten years, Goa saw 13 CMs,” Modi says. “During this period, Goa used to be in news for dynasty and corruption. BJP has brought Goa on a new track and it can be credited to Parrikar ji and his team.”

7.39 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says late Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar showed how “a person can work for people’s welfare with honesty”. Modi addresses an event in Goa.

6.57 pm: Election officials leave for respective polling stations in Nagpur. Seven parliamentary constituencies in Maharashtra will vote in the first phase of elections on Thursday, reports PTI.

6.54 pm: United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi will file her nomination papers for the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat on Thursday, reports PTI. Party spokesperson LKP Singh says Gandhi will hold a road show. Sonia Gandhi is trying to retain the seat for the fifth time. Voting for the seat will take place on May 6.

6.51 pm: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy says Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “worse than Hitler”. Kumaraswamy made the remark on Tuesday reportedly upset over Income Tax raids against his party leaders, PTI reported. “Modi is a dictator – a man worse than Hitler,” says Kumaraswamy. “He is the worst prime minister who brought a bill to confiscate the personal properties of individuals.”

6.20 pm: Gujarat MLA Alpesh Thakor, founder of Thakor Kshatriya Sena outfit, resigns from the Congress, reports say. The resignation comes barely two weeks before the elections in Gujarat on April 23.

Earlier in the day, his outfit had asked him to leave the party within 24 hours, claiming that the Congress had ignored the Thakor Kshatriya Sena in their decision making and in candidate selection for the Lok Sabha polls.

6.15 pm: Authorities in Dharamgarh, Odisha, seizes more than Rs 2 lakh in cash from the car of Pradip Dishari, Biju Janata Dal’s candidate from Lanjigarh Assembly constituency, ANI reports.

5.54 pm: At a rally in Raiganj, West Bengal, Rahul Gandhi says: “If Modi can put money in bank accounts of thieves, then Congress will put Rs 72000 in the bank accounts of the poor and the honest.”

Gandhi says Modi wanted to create two Indias – one for his friends like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and another for the poor, reports PTI. “Congress will never allow this.”

5.50 pm: The families of two men killed in the police firing during the “anti-sacrilege” protests in 2015 in Punjab criticise the Election Commission for transferring an officer who was investigating the case, reports PTI.

“The decision of the Election Commission to shift an IPS officer seemed to be politically motivated as it was done at the behest of the complaint of Akali Dal,” says Sukhraj Singh, son of Krishan Bhagwan Singh. Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Gurjit Singh were killed in police firing at Behbal Kalan in Faridkot on October 14, 2015 following protests over desecration of holy books.

5.47 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi begins addressing a rally at Raiganj in Uttar Dinajpur district of West Bengal. “Mamata Banerjee says the Congress party is not fighting against the BJP,” he says, according to News18. “Who made the chowkidar a chor? We have turned the face of the chowkidar red. He has not been able to give speeches these days. There is fear within PM Modi.”

5.45 pm: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says the Supreme Court has not given a verdict on whether the Rafale documents are not stolen. “The Supreme Court said we dismiss the objection but present the papers to us,” she says, according to News18. “September 2019, as per the agreement, Rafale is coming.”

5.33 pm: Election Commission spokesperson says the poll’s body order banning the screening of the biopic PM Modi during poll period does not apply to NaMo TV.

5.31 pm: A complaint has been filed at a court in Muzaffarpur, Bihar against former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti over their remarks that abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A, which grant special status to the state, will free the state from India, reports PTI.

Advocate Rajesh Chandra Sharma filed the complaint under Sections 124A (sedition) and 34 (common intent for a criminal act) of the Indian Penal Code.

5.26 pm: District Election Officer Himanshu Gupta says the nomination of Bahujan Samaj Party candidate from Barmer in Rajasthan, Pankaj Choudhary, has been rejected due to lack of requisite documents, reports PTI.

Choudhary, an IPS officer who was dismissed from the service last month, says he will challenge the rejection in the Rajasthan High Court. He claims his nomination was rejected due to a “political conspiracy”.

5.21 pm: Opposition leaders attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday after his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan claimed there would be a better chance of talks with India if the Bharatiya Janata Party returns to power in the Lok Sabha elections.

Read more here:

‘How deep are your ties with Pakistan?’: Opposition lashes out at PM Modi after Imran Khan’s remarks

5.18 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi accuses Congress of an “election scam”, claiming that the party had looted the money meant “for the poor and pregnant women” in the country.

Read more here:

Narendra Modi in Gujarat: Congress is indulging in ‘Tughlaq Road election scam’, says PM

4.42 pm: The Thakor Kshatriya Sena, the outfit founded by Gujarat MLA Alpesh Thakor, decides to withdraw its support to the Congress. It asks him to leave the party within 24 hours, reports PTI.

Read more here

Thakor Kshatriya Sena gives Alpesh Thakor ultimatum to leave Congress within 24 hours

4.41 pm: Poll officials get ready for first phase of voting in Baramulla and Jammu on Thursday.

4.39 pm: Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Rahul Gandhi’s statement on Rafale verdict verges on contempt of court. “The Congress president said that the court has said Anil Ambani gave money to PM Modi,” says Sitharaman. “This is a lie. It is contempt of court. The court hasn’t said any such thing. Rahul Gandhi said things that were not said by the court.”

4.33 pm: Election authorities make elaborate security arrangements in four Lok Sabha constituencies of Bihar – Gaya, Jamui, Nawada and Aurangabad – that will vote on Thursday. Central para military forces, Bihar Military Police and Special Armed Police will be deployed outside 7,486 polling stations while live webcast of polling will be done at 350 booths. Helicopters and air ambulances will be on standby.

4.29 pm: The Ministry of Defence claims that petitioners seeking an inquiry into the Rafale deal are using documents with the intent to present a “selective and incomplete picture”. The ministry reiterate that the documents were classified, and some of them “could not have been placed in public domain”.

Read more here

Rafale deal: Petitioners using classified files to present selective picture, says defence ministry

4.17 pm: The Tamil Nadu Police file an FIR against DMK’s Vellore candidate in the Lok Sabha elections and two others in connection with the Income Tax raids carried out recently, reports PTI. DMK nominee DM Kathir Anand is accused of giving “wrong information” in his poll affidavit.

3.35 pm: Banerjee says the Trinamool Congress will lead the change at the Centre. “All the institutions have lost their credibility,” she says, according to News18. “They [BJP] intimidate the media. They bring people from outside during election, distribute money to win votes. Ensure that they do not win. They want to drive away everyone in the name of NRC [National Register of Citizens].”

3.32 pm: Mamata Banerjee says the prime minister was busy touring other countries over the past four years, when unemployment increased and farmers died failing to pay off debt, reports PTI. “Suddenly he became so conscious about the welfare of countrymen,” she says at Chopra, North Dinajpur. “Five years back he was the chaiwala [tea-seller] and now he is suddenly the chowkidar [watchman]. And after the elections people will not find him anywhere. I call him [Modi] dangabaaz (rioteer) and a lutera (robber),” she says.

3.27 pm: Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala says Pakistan has “officially allied with Modi” referring to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks that there was a better chance of talks with India if the BJP returned to power.

“‘A vote for Modi is a vote for Pakistan’, says Pak PM Imran Khan,” Surjewala says on Twitter.

3.24 pm: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee says a vote for CPI(M)-Congress is a vote wasted, reports News18. “In the past, BJP, Congress and CPI(M) have won from Darjeeling seats,” she says at a rally at Chopra, North Dinajpur. “They have done nothing for the people. Last time, BJP candidate won from Darjeeling. He did a vanishing act after winning.”

3.20 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh writes to the Election Commission seeking a review of the poll body’s order relieving Inspector General Kunwar V Pratap Singh as a member of Special Investigation Team looking into the Bagari firing case, reports ANI. Amarinder Singh says the SIT was carrying out its legal mandate and was not affected by the Model Code of Conduct

3.15 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a rally at Songadh, Gujarat. “Congress talks about removing Modi and Modi talks about removing poverty,” he says. Modi criticises the Congress over its manifesto promise to repeal the sedition law and reduce forces from Kashmir. “Are people who want to break the country into tukde-tukde [pieces] not anti-nationals?... Congress is now saying that they will repeal the sedition law. Can we expect this from a 125-year-old party?” he asks.

3.13 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu questions Income Tax raids on his party leaders, reports ANI. “I’m asking I-T dept who are you to do one- sided raids on TDP,” he asks. “Once elections are announced, it’s a level playing field; you have to treat everybody equal. Otherwise, it’s unjustified. Modi wanted to demolish democracy, so I launched ‘Save India Save Democracy’.”

3.07 pm: Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says this election is to ensure Narendra Modi never becomes the prime minister of this country again, reports News18. She says the Trinamool Congress will drive out the BJP from the country and help for the government at the Centre. Banerjee is speaking at a rally at North Dinajpur.

3.02 pm: Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti says Narendra Modi, despite a huge mandate, “frittered away” the chance to carry forward dialogue with Pakistan which was initiated by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “Mufti Sb too like Pak PM believed that Modi a BJP PM backed by right wing could carry forward process of dialogue initiated by Vajpayee ji,” she says.

2.58 pm: Abdullah tweets: “How soon before we see a “Chowkidar Imran Khan” twitter handle?”

2.54 pm: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah says Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to answer for Pakistani premier Imran Khan endorsing for Modi’s second term as prime minister, PTI reported.

“Modi will have to answer that because it was Modi only who, till now, was saying that Pakistan and militants want the BJP to lose, but it has become clear today that it is Pakistan which wants Modi to win again,” says Abdullah.

Khan on Tuesday claimed that there is a better chance of talks with India if the BJP returns to power in the Lok Sabha elections.

2.40 pm: The Election Commission also prohibits use of posters and publicity material to be displayed on electronic media.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea seeking a stay on the release of a biopic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The biopic, PM Narendra Modi, was to be released on April 11, the first day of voting for the Lok Sabha elections.

Read more here:

Election Commission halts release of Modi biopic, cites ‘serious threat to level-playing field’

2.26 pm: The Election Commission bans the release of biopics in the “nature of sub-serving the purposes of any political entity” or which has the “potential to disturb the level playing field during elections”. This means a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be released till the end of polling.

Biopics NTR Laxmi and Udyama Simham will also not be released now.

2.04 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh writes to Election Commission seeking action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his remark on the defence forces, reports ANI. At a rally in Latur, Modi appealed to first-time voters to dedicate their votes to the defence forces in the wake of the Pulwama attack and the Balakot air strike.

2 pm: A delegation of Telugu Desam Party leaders led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu meets state Chief Electoral Officer, Gopal Krishna Dwivedi, over Income Tax raids against his party leader, reports ANI.

1.55 pm: Jaitley says: “There could be no bigger hypocrisy than this that those inflicting injustice on poor children, pregnant women [and] economically weaker sections of society by depriving them of their rightful government assistance, have the audacity to speak of Nyay [justice]!”

The Congress party’s minimum income guarantee scheme is abbreviated to NYAY or Nyuntam Aay Yojana.

1.53 pm: Jaitley says the two state governments have not replied to the allegations. “An argument is being given by them as to why they are being singled out and their political rivals are not being searched,” he says. The Congress is in power in Madhya Pradesh, while it is a part of the coalition government in Karnataka.

1.50 pm: Jaitley says evidence from Karnataka shows allocations made to the Public Works Department were being “round-tripped by engineers for a political purpose”. “Similarly in Madhya Pradesh, an institutional mechanism has been created where money that is meant for development & social welfare of the weaker sections are now being channeled into politics,” says Jaitley.

1.45 pm: Union minister Arun Jaitley says it has become a “growing culture of opposition parties to call any action against corruption as political vendetta”. “Legitimate action against corruption is no vendetta as claim of vendetta has never been a legitimate defence in corruption,” he says on Twitter.

1.29 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi challenges Prime Minister Narendra Modi after filing his nomination for the Amethi seat, reports News18. He says: “The nation is eager to know about the details of the Rafale deal...I am ready to debate with PM Modi at a location of his choosing...the corruption in the deal is very evident...he has given IAF’s money to Anil Ambani. There is open corruption in Rafale deal. The SC has also indicated that chowkidar committed the theft.”

1.26 pm: Amit Shah says the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress play vote bank politics.

1.24 pm: Shah says friends of the mahagathbandhan talks about separating Kashmir from India. He says Kashmir will always remain a part of India.

1.20 pm: Shah criticises the Congress and questions the party’s contribution to Uttar Pradesh, reports News18. “For 10 years Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh – Congress party was in power and every day or another there were terrorist attacks,” he says. “But this time after Pulwama attack, Modi-led government gave a befitting reply to them.”

1.17 pm: BJP chief Amit Shah says Narendra Modi will be prime minister once again while addressing a rally at Kasganj, Uttar Pradesh, reports ANI. “We will not talk to any terrorist groups, that is for sure...if terrorists dare to do something, we will enter their house again and shred them.”

1.15 pm: The Election Commission issues a showcause notice to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao for violating the Model Code of Conduct, reports PTI. The poll body found him finding him prima facie guilty of allegedly passing derogatory remarks against Hindus while addressing an election rally in Karimnagar last month.

The Election Commission asks Rao to submit a reply by Friday evening, failing which the commission will take a decision “without any further reference to you”. The commission says Vishwa Hindu Parishad state president M Rama Raju filed a complaint against Rao.

Read more here:

Telangana: EC finds KCR prima facie guilty of making derogatory remarks against Hindus

1.07 pm: The Gujarat Kshatriya Thakor Sena, an outfit floated by Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor, passes resolution to sever ties with the Congress and asks Thakor to resign from the Congress.

“The Thakor Sena, during the core committee meeting late Tuesday night, passed a resolution to severe ties with the Congress,” Jagat Thakor, a member of the outfit. “We have not consulted Alpesh Thakor before taking this decision. After the meet, we told him to make his stand clear within 24 hours. If he wants to remain with the Congress, then he has to leave the Thakor Sena. And if he wants to be with us, then he has to resign from the party and as an MLA.”

12.55 pm: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi files his nomination for the Amethi seat, reports ANI. Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Robert Vadra are accompanying him.

12.53 pm: Attorney General KK Venugopal, on behalf of the Centre, says amendments were passed to eliminate black money in democratic process, according to Bar and Bench.

12.51 pm: The Election Commission opposes the insertion of a proviso to Section 29C of the Representation of People Act which exempts declaration of donations by political parties when it comes to electoral bonds, reports Bar and Bench.

12.49 pm: Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who represents the Association for Democratic Reforms, says anonymous funding has opened flood gates for corruption, reports Bar and Bench. “[A] lot of the funding going in especially to the ruling party could be kickbacks, we will never know,” he says.

12.46 pm: The Election Commission tells the Supreme Court that it is not opposed to the electoral bonds scheme, but against the anonymity of donors and sought transparency in the scheme, reports ANI.

The Supreme Court had refused to grant an interim stay on the operation of electoral bonds scheme on April 5 and adjourned the hearing to April 10. The top court is hearing a batch of petitions questioning the validity of the scheme and seeking a stay on it. The petitioners include the Association for Democratic Reforms and Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury.

12.39 pm: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy campaigns for his son, Nikhil Kumaraswamy, for Mandya seat, reports ANI.

12.33 pm: The Karnataka government on Tuesday transferred the deputy commissioner of Mandya, from where Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son, Nikhil Kumaraswamy, is contesting, following direction from the Election Commission, reports PTI.

Deputy Commissioner N Manjushree was transferred after independent candidate, Sumalatha Ambareesh, had accused Manjushree of bias.

12.29 pm: United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi arrives at the district collector’s office in Amethi, where Congress President Rahul Gandhi will file his nomination for the Amethi seat, reports ANI.

12.27 pm: The Congress welcomes the Supreme Court decision to hear review pleas seeking an inquiry into the Rafale fighter jet deal. “This is a victory for India!” says the party.

Read more here:

‘A victory for India’: Opposition parties welcome SC’s decision to hear review pleas in Rafale deal

12.24 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati says Narendra Modi government’s attempt to hide corruption in the Rafale deal has failed.

12.21 pm: BJP leader Ram Madhav says the Supreme Court order on the Rafale scam is not a setback, reports News18. He says the government will be transparent and will come out clean.

12.19 pm: Modi says: “Airstrike was against Pakistan, but it affected Congress in India.” The prime minister is addressing a rally at Junagarh, Gujarat.

“One needs to see our track record and their [Congress and its allies] tape record,” he says. “Our track record is of fight against terror, focus on development, and taking up the cause of the poor. But the Congress’s tape record plays only one song, Modi Hatao [Remove Modi].”

12.17 pm: “The Nehru-Gandhi family is rattled seeing that this chaiwala [tea-seller] has completed five years with full strength,” says Modi, according to Hindustan Times. “They [Sardar Patel and Morarji Desai] faced wrath of the Congress because they belonged to Gujarat.”

12.16 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticises the Congress at the Junagarh rally. He says the party has always harboured “hatred towards Gujarat”, reports Hindustan Times. Modi says the “Nehru-Gandhi family of the Congress” first targeted Sardar Patel and Morarji Desai before “using all kinds of abuses” to target him.

12.14 pm: Gurjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla and his son Vijay Bainsla join BJP in the presence of Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, reports ANI.

12.12 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi begins road show in Amethi, ahead of filing nomination papers for the seat, reports ANI. His sister and Congress General Secretary, Priyanka Gandhi, brother-in-law Robert Vadra and their children are present.

11.53 am: Rights activist Harish Iyer joins the Congress.

11.43 am: At the Junagarh rally, Modi accuses the Congress of turning Madhya Pradesh into an ATM. “In last 3-4 days you would’ve seen sacks full of cash of Congress leaders being found,” he says. “It has not been even six months of govt in MP. Congress had turned Karnataka into their ATM now they’ve turned MP into ATM. Fate of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh won’t be any different.”

11.42 am: Manipur Chief Electoral Officer PK Singh has sought the disqualification of BJP Outer Manipur candidate Benjamin Mate, reports Imphal Free Press. Singh has written to the returning officer for verification. Mate is accused of violating the Model Code of Conduct by using militant groups, which are under suspension of operations, to influence voters.

11.31 am: Congress spokesperson RS Surjewala says the skeletons in the “Rafale scam” are tumbling out one by one.

11.29 am: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says today’s Supreme Court verdict on the review pleas in the Rafale jet deal shows Modi has stolen from the nation.

11.27 am: Modi accuses Congress of snatching away food from poor children and filling the stomach of its own leaders. “Congress is looting the money designated for pregnant women,” he says in Junagarh.

11.25 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins his campaign speech in Junagarh, Gujarat.

11.23 am: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said the political leaders asking for a separate prime minister for Kashmir were frustrated and desperate. “If you are talking about two prime ministers in the country, what options are left before us than taking a call on abrogation of Article 370 or repealing 35A?” Singh told the Hindustan Times.

11.20 am: BJP President Amit Shah on Tuesday likened Wayanad to Pakistan. “When a procession is taken out, you cannot make out whether it is India or a Pakistan procession,” he said in an apparent reference to the Indian Union Muslim League flags seen during Rahul Gandhi’s procession on April 4.

“Rahul baba, for the sake of his alliance, has gone to such a seat in Kerala where when a procession is taken out, you cannot make out whether it is India or a Pakistan procession,” he said at a rally in Nagpur.

11.15 am: Union minister and BJP candidate Smriti Irani will file her nomination from Amethi on Thursday. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is likely to accompany her. The chief minister will participate in a roadshow before the nomination and later address an election meeting.

10.49 am: The Supreme Court dismisses the Centre’s objections to the review petitions seeking an inquiry into the Rafale fighter jet deal. The bench says it will fix a new date for the hearing of the review petitions. The judges add that the pleas will be heard on the basis of their merits.

Read more here

Rafale deal: Supreme Court dismisses Centre’s objections, will hear review petitions on their merit

10.43 am: Rahul Gandhi arrives in Amethi to file his nomination papers.

10.39 am: The Income Tax department has filed a complaint against Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, accusing him of alerting offenders about raids, NDTV reports. Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar has forwarded the complaint to State Director General and Inspector General of Police Neelamani Raju for “appropriate action”. In its four-page complaint, dated March 30, the Income Tax department seeks a CRPF contingent to assist in search operations.

10.36 am: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel pays tribute to BJP MLA Bheema Mandavi and four others who were killed in the Maoist attack in Dantewada.

10.29 am: The Election Commission issues showcause notices to television channels Zee TV and &TV for airing two shows that promote central government schemes. The channels have been asked to reply within 24 hours.

Read more here

Lok Sabha polls: EC issues notices to Zee TV, &TV for shows promoting government schemes

10.24 am: Poll officials in Goa tell Mahadev Naik, the Congress candidate for the Shiroda Assembly bye-polls, to tone down his son’s wedding, reports IANS. South Goa District Returning Officer and District Collector Ajit Roy says Naik has been advised to have a closed private wedding on April 20 and postpone the reception and wedding party to a day after the bye-polls on April 23. “We advised him to postpone this wedding because usually such events are also used for election purposes,” says Roy.

9.30 am: The Supreme Court will give its verdict on the Centre’s objections to the documents cited by petitioners seeking an inquiry into the Rafale fighter jet deal with France today. The court had reserved its verdict on March 14.

Read more here

Rafale deal: Supreme Court to decide today if review plea based on ‘secret files’ should be heard

9.28 am: Mohammad Maqbool War, the BJP’s candidate for Baramulla Parliamentary constituency, says Article 370 and 35A can never be annulled, reports The Indian Express. He says the BJP’s stand is possibly with woo voters in other parts of the country.

9.25 am: Bhim Army asks the Dalit community to vote for Congress’ Saharanpur candidate Imran Masood. This comes after BSP chief Mayawati called Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad a “BJP agent”.

9.19 am: Over 18,000 security personnel have been deployed in Ghaziabad district for the peaceful conduct of the election process on Thursday. Forty-six polling stations have been identified as vulnerable and 174 as critical.

8.50 am: Polling parties get ready for the first phase of the elections in Alipurduar parliamentary constituency in West Bengal.

8.44 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi will file his nomination from Amethi Lok Sabha seat today, reports PTI. He will also address a roadshow in the constituency.

8.43 am: Here are the top updates from Tuesday:

  • The Election Commission asked polling officers in Chhattisgarh to take precautions in the next few days after a BJP legislator and four others were killed in a Maoist attack in Dantewada. Polling in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar constituency will go ahead on schedule on Thursday.      
  • The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has written to the Election Commission to complain against Narendra Modi’s comments at a rally earlier in the day, where he urged first-time voters to dedicate their votes to the defence forces in the wake of the Pulwama attack and the Balakot air strike.    
  • The Election Commission replaced the police chief in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district before the Lok Sabha polls on April 11. The poll panel’s decision to replace Abhishek Gupta with Amit Kumar Singh drew criticism from the Trinamool Congress-led state government.    
  • West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called Prime Minister Narendra Modi the “king of fascists” and claimed that Adolf Hitler would have committed suicide if he witnessed Modi’s activities. Addressing a public meeting in Raiganj, Banerjee said, “Modi was baptised in politics through violence and riots.”
  • The Supreme Court dismissed a plea seeking a stay on the release of a biopic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The biopic, PM Narendra Modi, will be released on April 11, the first day of voting for the Lok Sabha elections.