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

  • Narendra Modi said Congress, through its “Ab Hoga Nyay” campaign, has admitted to doing injustice for 60 years.
  • Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati attacked Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for his remarks, saying that “both Ali and Bajrang Bali”, that is, Muslims and Hindus, are her own people.
  • Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu claimed that the Election Commission works on Modi’s instructions. 
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley derided the Opposition’s election campaign, and claimed the “Modi factor” was visible during the first phase of polling.
  • Retired Major General Sudhir Vombatkere said veterans who denied signing a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind against the politicisation of the Armed Forces during the elections may have had second thoughts.
  • A video showed BJP leader Sakshi Maharaj threatening to ‘give his sins’ to people if they did not vote for him. Maharaj also purportedly likened voting to “kanyadaan”, a Hindu wedding ritual. 

8.57 pm: All India Majlis-e-Ittedahul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi attacks Congress at a rally in Bihar’s Kishanganj, PTI reports. He says Congress is seeking Muslim votes by asking them to fear BJP, but the Bhagalpur riots and the unlocking of the premises of the Babri mosque had taken place when it was in power.

8.54 pm: Congress leader Digvijay Singh, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Bhopal, has prayed at a Ram temple in the city and told its trustees that land on which the structure stands will be handed over to them, PTI reports. This has angered the BJP. “Now, he is remembering Lord Ram as elections are drawing near,” BJP leader Vishwas Sarang says. “The land on which the temple stands in Guru-Baksh-ke- Taliya was grabbed by the Congress.”

8.52 pm: Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani accuses Rahul Gandhi of “disgracing” his Lok Sabha constituency of Amethi and “crushing the dreams” of the people for 15 years, PTI reports. Irani is the BJP’s candidate for the constituency.

8.50 pm: Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav says the Lok Sabha elections are “historic” as they will take the nation in a new direction and restore respect for the poor, PTI reports. “The BJP wants to create a gulf of hatred,” he says at a joint rally with the Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun. “The BJP wants to divide the society for gaining power in the manner in which the British divided us.”

8.45 pm: “In 2008 166 people were killed in Mumbai blast,” she says. “On the contrary, when Uri attack took place, we carried out surgical strike and when Pulwama attack happened, we did air strikes.”

8.43 pm: Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addresses Indians living across the world, BJP says on Twitter. She says the BJP government has been successful in defending the country’s borders and increasing its allies abroad, the Hindustan Times reports. “We had been giving appropriate answer to the neighbour whenever it was needed, and the entire world supported our actions,” she adds.

8.39 pm: Rahul Gandhi says in Mysuru that the Congress, if it comes to power, will remove “Gabbar Singh Tax” and introduce a simple Goods and Services Tax regime.

“NYAY will jump-start the Indian economy,” he adds. “People will have money, and they will start buying things. With an increase in demand, production will also go up. New factories will be set up and our youth will be employed here.”

8.35 pm: At a rally in Mysuru, former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah says respect for the prime minister’s post has been lost because of Modi.

8.31 pm: “We have isolated Pakistan internationally and now only China is with Pakistan,” Modi says according to The Indian Express. “Earlier only Russia was with us and all others were with Pakistan, we have changed this situation.”

8.27 pm: In Bengaluru, Modi says the promises made in the Congress manifesto will put national security at risk. “In their manifesto, Congress states that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act will be diluted, should they come to power,” he says. “They intend to make our soldiers helpless through this action. They also plan to withdraw our forces from Jammu and Kashmir.”

8.19 pm: A former senior officer of the Indian Army counters claims made by some other veterans denying that they endorsed a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind against the politicisation of the Armed Forces during the elections. Major General (Retired) Sudhir Vombatkere says the email responses of the veterans are on record, and they may have had second thoughts after signing the letter.

8.05 pm: In Andhra Pradesh, the final voter turnout for both the Assembly elections as well as the Lok Sabha elections was 79.64%.

7.56 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting in Bengaluru.

7.52 pm: Visuals from Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s roadshow in Bhubaneshwar.

7.47 pm: Congress releases its list of 18 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.

7.40 pm: Gandhi alleges demonetisation brought the Indian economy to a halt, according to the Hindustan Times. “Demonetisation was solely put to action to take money out from your pockets and deposit it in the pockets of billionaires of India, we will make sure you get your money back,” Gandhi adds. “The economy which was shattered after you lost your buying power, will return to boom once we deposit money back into your pockets.”

7.34 pm: The Congress’ NYAY scheme is well-planned, says Gandhi. “Our task force worked day and night to make sure we provide financial help to poor without negatively affecting the economy,” he says at the rally in Mysuru.

7.20 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses a rally in Mysuru in Karnataka.

7.10 pm: Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan tells people at a rally in Odisha’s Cuttack that the BJP will provide five kilograms of rice, 500 grams of dal and salt at Re 1 if it is voted to power, ANI reports.

7.04 pm: The Congress has accused Narendra Modi of being the “middleman” in enabling Anil Ambani to receive tax waiver from the French government in 2015. “This is called zero sum choices, startling tax concession and Modi’s blessings,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala says.

6.55 pm: Gandhi says the Congress will introduce a separate budget for farmers if his party comes to power in 2019. “At the beginning of the year itself, the farmer will know what his government is doing for him,” he adds.

Gandhi says that the Congress promised to waive farm loans in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Karnataka and did so immediately after coming to power in those states.

6.52 pm: “On one side, there is hatred, anger, division, violence,” Gandhi says in Karnataka. “On the other, love, brotherhood, progress. On one side is the injustice of five years, on the other side Nyay [justice].”

6.46 pm: The Congress counters Arun Jaitley, who mocked Gandhi for getting an M Phil degree without a Masters. “FYI Jaitlie ji aka Blog Mantri ji, Cambridge [University] offers M Phil straight from undergrad,” the party tweeted. “What nobody offers is a degree in entire political science.”

The Congress also asked Jaitley on whose instructions the French government waived off taxes for Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications.

6.41 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi claims in Karnataka’s Chitradurga that the election is being contested between businessman Anil Ambani and the people of India. “It is a battle between lies and the truth,” he says. “In India, the truth will always win.”

6.29 pm: “In Kerala, the communists have created such a situation that no person cannot take the name of [Hindu god] Ayyappa,” Modi claims in Mangaluru. “If you say Sabarimala, there will be a case file against you, you will be jailed... Is this democracy?”

“This mahamilawat [adulterated] Congress culture has not only affected our traditions but also weakened the armed forces and destroyed the economy,” Modi adds.

6.25 pm: “Proclaiming one’s rights has become a crime,” Modi says in Mangaluru.

6.23 pm: Modi also attacks the Congress for demanding proof of the IAF strikes in Balakot.

6.22 pm: The 20th century gave Congress a chance but it used all the opportunities to uplift one family, Modi alleges in Mangaluru. “They failed to develop the country. But our government has worked for entire nation, we did not ignore the works of Dr Abdul Kalam or Dr Radha Krishnan, Congress did.”

6.17 pm: In Mangaluru, Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleges Congress only gave slogans for the poor, according to The Indian Express. “Their (Congress’) unrighteousness causes corruption and injustice. Our emergence has an increasing reputation of transparency and honesty,” Modi says, adding that the while the Congress gave slogans to the poor, while the BJP government reduced poverty and “built a neo-middle class” in the country. “Dynastic politics is the base of parties like Congress, JDS, while nationalism is our motivation,” he adds.

6.10 pm: BJP leader and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis alleges the Congress paid people to attend its rally in Nanded on Friday. “In Nanded, the environment in favour of BJP-Shiv Sena alliance is such that Ashok Chavan [of the Congress] is paying rent to bring people in rallies,” Fadnavis alleges. “We bring stage and chairs on rent, but Ashok Chavan in their yesterday’s rally had to bring leaders on rent.”

6.04 pm: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia says the Aam Aadmi Party is still ready to form an alliance with the Congress in Delhi, Haryana and Chandigarh, but will not agree for one only in the national Capital, the Hindustan Times reports.

“We wanted to form a united opposition against the BJP and were ready to ignore our differences because right now the priority is to stop the dangerous Modi-Shah duo,” says Sisodia. “In last one week, meetings were held between the AAP and the Congress and we proposed alliance on 33 seats in Delhi, Goa, Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab. Out of them, 23 seats is with NDA.”

“But the Congress purposely wasted time to take a decision on alliance and now it says it can tie up with the AAP only in Delhi,” he adds. “Forming an alliance in Delhi alone would not solve the problem. We still saying that an alliance can be formed [with Congress] in Haryana, Delhi and Chandigarh if they are ready then we are ready too but alliance cannot be done alone in Delhi.”

5.53 pm: Rajasthan Chief Electoral Officer Anand Kumar directs all district electoral officers in the state to ensure basic amenities such as shade and water are provided at all polling stations on April 29 and May 6, when the state goes to the polls.

5.47 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu claims that the Election Commission works at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Naidu made the remark after meeting Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora at the poll panel’s headquarters in New Delhi.

Read more here

Chandrababu Naidu claims Election Commission works on Narendra Modi’s instructions

4.53 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, addresses a rally in Mangaluru.

4.46 pm: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi attacks Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Kolar in Karnataka. “I have a question. Why all the thieves have Modi in their names whether be it Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi and Narendra Modi? We don’t know how many more such Modis will come out,” Gandhi says, according to PTI. He adds: “100% chowkidar [guard] is a chor [thief].”

4.38 pm: At a rally in Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, BJP chief Amit Shah says, “When it is time for elections, behenji remembers Ambedkar ji but when she comes to power, she forgets Ambedkar ji and builds her own statues” in an apparent attack on BSP chief Mayawati. “It is the BJP government that has built Ambedkar ji’s memorial in 5 years.”

4.35 pm: Mayawati also urges the people to ensure that the BJP got “neither Ali’s nor Bajranj Bali’s vote”, referring to the Muslim and Dalit communities. “It seems that those chanting NaMo NaMo are leaving and those chanting Jai Bheem are coming forward,” she adds.

4.34 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati attacks the Bharatiya Janata Party and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for his comments on Bajrangbali, the Hindu god Hanuman, and Ali, a revered figure in Islam. “Ali is ours, so is Bajrang Bali,” Mayawati says at a rally in Badaun in Uttar Pradesh, according to the Hindustan Times. “We want both, especially the latter since he belongs to the Dalit community. Yogi himself said that Bajrang Bali was a forest dweller and a Dalit.”

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath had compared the upcoming elections to a contest between Ali, a revered figure in Islam, and Bajrang Bali, the Hindu god Hanuman.

4.20 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacks the Congress’ “Ab Hoga Nyay” campaign slogan, alleging that the party has unintentionally admitted that it committed anyay, or injustice, for 60 years. Modi also claims that all corrupt parties have ganged up in an effort to defeat him.

Read more here

Narendra Modi claims Congress admitted to doing injustice for 60 years with ‘Ab Hoga Nyay’ campaign

2.53 pm: Naidu demands that the Election Commission revert to “the paper ballot system immediately to preserve the sanctity and protect the spirit of electoral process and democracy”.

2.52 pm: The meeting comes two days after simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections were conducted in Andhra Pradesh. The process was marred by several glitches in Electronic Voting Machines.

2.49 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu meets Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora in New Delhi. He says the election commission “miserably failed to live up to the spirit of the constitutional duty” in the state, according to The Hindustan Times.

2.44 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tells voters to not waste their votes on the Congress or the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

1.40 pm: Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi says Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the “biggest victim of political intolerance”, reports The Indian Express. The remarks come amid statements issued by visual artists, theatre personalities, filmmakers, academics and writers appealed to citizens to vote the BJP and hate politics out.

1.35 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party President Mayawati says an attempt is being made to create hatred between the followers of Bajrangbali, the Hindu god Hanuman, and Ali, a revered figure in Islam.

Mayawati conveys her greetings on Ram Navami. “When people are happily remembering the ideals of Shri Ram, it is unfortunate that an attempt is being made to create confrontation [and] hatred between Bajrang Bali [and] Ali for narrow political gain.”

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath had compared the upcoming elections to a contest between Ali, a revered figure in Islam, and Bajrang Bali, the Hindu god Hanuman.

1.29 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu will meet Election Commission officials in Delhi to lodge a complaint on faulty electronic voting machines, reports News18.

1.18 pm: Hema Malini says women from many minority communities will support the BJP on the triple talaq issue, reports ANI. “But even if they don’t, you have to help everybody, doesn’t matter who voted for us [and] who did not,” she says. “This kind of feeling doesn’t come to me. Everybody is different.”

She was responding to a question on Union minister Maneka Gandhi’s statement that if Muslims don’t vote for her she won’t work for them.

1.12 pm: BJP candidate for Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, Hema Malini says she is confident of winning, because “I have done good work, my Government has done good work”, reports ANI. “[The] whole system is changing, people want development, caste politics now doesn’t work.”

1 pm: “One day the focus would be on the BJP candidate’s educational qualification, fully forgetting that a public audit of Rahul Gandhi’s academic credentials may leave a lot to be answered,” says Jaitley. “After all, he got an M.Phil without a Masters degree.”

12.57 pm: Jaitley says: “The Signature Campaign Propaganda proved to be terrible for the Congress party as many of academics, economists, artistes, ex-civil servants [and] even some former soldiers, whose signatures been put, publicly stated that they never consented for putting their signatures.”

12.53 pm: “The Opposition wasted the past two years in the run-up to the poll “manufacturing issues” which didn’t exist,” says Jaitley. “The Rafale or the EVM proved to be fake issues only.”

12.51 pm: Jaitley says the leadership issue “looks gloomier’” than what he had thought. “The BSP leader Mayawati, the Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee leave no stone unturned in running down the Congress President,” he says. “No doubt it is advantage BJP.”

12.46 pm: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says the “Modi factor was writ large” after the first phase of elections. “Opposition parties still renting an issue [and] are in disarray as alliances in many states have not worked out,” he says. “Obviously the multi-cornered contest favours the BJP.”

12.15 pm: Modi claims the Madhya Pradesh government has become the Congress’ ATM. “They are diverting money meant for the poor and the children for use in the election,” he says. “This has become known as the Tughlak Road scandal. I want to ask the Congress party: Who will do Nyay to the victims of the 1984 Sikh riots? Who will do Nyay to the victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, among the worst environment disasters in India?”

He is referring to the Congress’ proposed NYAY scheme that plans to give minimum income guarantee to the poorest 20% Indians.

11.52 am: Modi says that some days ago, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief projected the “naamdar” – a reference to Rahul Gandhi – as prime minister. “But no one was ready to accept it, not even their maha milawati friends [adulterated Opposition], because they all want to be PM,” Modi says.

11.50 am: Prime Minister Modi has started addressing a rally in Theni in Tamil Nadu.

11.42 am: Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan tells PTI that the Narendra Modi government is the “most corrupt” in the history of India, and that its performance has been “abysmal and deplorable”. He claims Modi has “dictatorial tendencies”.

11.24 am: The voter turnout in the simultaneous Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, and parts of Odisha was 77.38%, the Election Commission says.

11.20 am: The Election Commission says the voter turnout in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections on Thursday was 69.43% according to data available till now. The percentage may be revised later as more data comes in.

The top five states were Lakshadweep with 84.96%, West Bengal with 83.79%, Tripura with 83.26%, Nagaland with 83.12%, and Manipur with 82.82%.

11.08 am: The Delhi chief electoral officer says notice has been issued to the BJP directing it to take down all non-certified content from NaMo TV and a dedicated team has been set up to monitor the channel, reports The Indian Express.

The chief electoral officer submitted a compliance report to the Election Commission on Friday, a day after the Election Commission barred NaMo TV from airing programmes with political content without being certified by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee.

11.02 am: Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav questions Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s silence on the alleged meeting between him and Lalu Prasad Yadav, reports News18. “He [Kumar] should come out and speak,” says Tejashwi Yadav. “Prashant Kishor has been meeting us, it is written in Lalu’s book also. Prashant should first take permission from Nitish and then tweet.”

10.57 am: Janata Dal (United) leader Prashant Kishor criticises Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, saying those convicted or facing charges of abusing public office are claiming to be “custodians of truth”.

Kishor’s tweet comes a day after after former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi alleged that Nitish Kumar had sent Prashant Kishor to meet Lalu Prasad Yadav five times in attempts to reunite Janta Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD).

10.47 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi will address rallies at Kolar, Chitradurga and Krishnarajanagara in Karnataka.

9.20 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address rallies at Theni and Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu and Mangalore and Bengaluru in Karnataka.

9.15 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the Bharatiya Janata Party presents an “inclusive alternative” to the ruling Left Democratic Front and the Opposition United Democratic Front in Kerala.

Read more here:

‘BJP is an inclusive, democratic, compassionate alternative to LDF and UDF’: Narendra Modi in Kerala

9.10 am: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the sedition law would be made more stringent if the Bharatiya Janata Party is voted to power.

Read more here:

Lok Sabha polls: Rajnath Singh promises to make sedition law more stringent

9.05 am: Here are the top updates from Friday:

  • BJP chief Amit Shah said that nobody can separate Kashmir from India till his party exists.
  • The Supreme Court directed all political parties to submit details of political donations received through the electoral bonds scheme to the Election Commission by May 30.
  • The Congress said it will contest all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi on its own. Party leader PC Chacko blamed the Aam Aadmi Party for not being able to finalise the alliance.
  • The Congress demanded that Union minister Smriti Irani step down for “falsifying” details about her educational qualifications.
  • BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi filed a petition in the Supreme Court alleging that Rahul Gandhi had committed contempt of court by his remarks on the bench’s verdict on the Rafale deal.