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

  • At a rally in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was because of Ambedkar’s blessings that a chaiwala is the prime minister. He also attacked the SP-BSP alliance, and said they will shut shops after the elections.    
  • Opposition parties held a press conference in Delhi on alleged EVM malfunctioning. Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi claimed that the Election Commission was not paying attention to the questions that were raised after the first phase of elections on April 11 about EVM malfunctioning.    
  •   Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda said that regional parties cannot form the government on their own after the elections and will need support from the Congress. He said there were many differences between regional parties, but they needed the national Congress party to form the government with.
  • Omar Abdullah tweeted after Modi’s attack on him and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. Abdullah puts out a picture of the prime minister with former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and said, “Look how happy he is to seal an alliance with one of the families he wants to rid J&K politics of.”Modi had said the Muftis and Abdullahs were trying to divide the nation.
  •   Addressing a rally in Assam, Priyanka Gandhi said the BJP’s manifesto has no space for different cultures and religions.

8.35 pm: The Congress in Kerala criticise Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP about the Sabarimala matter, and say the people will tolerate the BJP’s dramatics, reports PTI. AICC General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal claims the BJP has cheated devotees and “are sincere to Sabarimala only when it comes to election and voting”. He accuses the Left-led state government of also colluding with the BJP in the matter.

8.30 pm: Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda says that regional parties cannot form the government on their own after the elections and will need support from the Congress, reports PTI. He said there were many differences between regional parties, but they needed the national Congress party to form the government with.

Speaking to reporters in Tumkur, where he is contesting, he said, “All the regional parties should join the national party Congress if they want to see the end of Modis rule, who is out to destroy the political system in the country.”

7.50 pm: According to information acquired from an RTI plea, 99.8% of donations political parties received through electoral bonds were of the highest denominations, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore, between March 2018 and January 24, 2019, PTI reports.

Bonds worth Rs 1,407.09 crore were bought, of which Rs 1,403.90 crore were in the highest denominations of Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore during this duration, according to information given to a social worker, Chandrashekhar Goud, by the State Bank of India.

Read more: The Supreme Court has postponed the electoral bonds question until after the 2019 elections

7.20 pm: The Congress’ Himachal Pradesh unit asks for an apology from the BJP state chief for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Rahul Gandhi, reports PTI. BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti had allegedly made the comment at a public meeting in Solan district of Shimla, state Congress’ chief spokesperson Naresh Chauhan claims.

7 pm: Omar Abdullah tweets after Modi’s attack on him and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. Abdullah puts out a picture of the prime minister with former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and says, “Look how happy he is to seal an alliance with one of the families he wants to rid J&K politics of.”

Modi had said the Muftis and Abdullahs were trying to divide the nation.

6.50 pm: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says neither Modi nor any other party leader wants to politicise the armed forces, reports PTI. She says there is nothing incorrect about saying that forces were given permission to act as they see fit.

“Nobody wants to politicise the armed forces, not particularly myself or prime minister or anybody from here (government). We dont want to politicise the armed forces,” she is quoted as saying in Bengaluru.

She asks if it is wrong to compare a “strong” government now to the “weak” Congress-led government from before 2014.

The party is facing criticism from several quarters about its leaders mentioning the armed forces in political campaigns and bringing up the Air Force’s strike in Balakot, Pakistan.

6.30 pm: Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora tells PTI that his party along with the Nationalist Congress Party will win all six Lok Sabha seats in Mumbai. He was replaced Sanjay Nirupam as Mumbai Congress chief last month.

Deora says the party is united in the state and “fighting for one cause” amid rumours of infighting within its Maharashtra unit.

6.10 pm: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot says BJP leader Adityanath should be charged with sedition for referring to the Army as “Modiji ki Sena”, reports PTI. “If someone criticises the government, the person is directly called anti-national,” PTI quoted Gehlot as saying. “But the anti-national person is he who, while being the chief minister, says ‘Modi ji ki sena.’”

6 pm: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra criticises Narendra Modi for not finding time to visit his own constituency of Varanasi, and claims the Constitution of India is being disrespected today

Read more here: Priyanka Gandhi says there is no space for different religions, cultures in BJP manifesto

5.30 pm: Modi says, “Today the elephant is riding the cycle to target chowkidar.” The elephant and cycle are the party symbols of the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samaj Party respectively.

5.16 pm: Addressing a rally in Assam, Priyanka Gandhi says the BJP’s manifesto has no space for different cultures and religions, reports News18.

5.05 pm: Modi criticises Congress for calling him the chowkidar of public toilets. “You [Congress] would not know the importance of it,” he says. “They should go and ask the women who were earlier forced to wait till dark.”

5.02 pm: Modi says this is new India that knows how to answer back. “What used to happen earlier?” he asks. “Terrorists used to come from Pakistan, attack us & Congress govt used to cry before the world that we’ve been attacked. But this is New India. When terrorists attacked Uri, brave soldiers of the country conducted surgical strike there. When they committed the second mistake in Pulwama, we entered their home & conducted airstrike.”

4.52 pm: Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh.

4.48 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav will file his nomination from Azamgarh on Thursday, reports News18.

4.15 pm: IAS officer Brijendra Singh, the son of Union steel minister Chaudhary Birender Singh, will contest on a BJP ticket from Hisar in Haryana.

4.07 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh accuses Narendra Modi of playing “dirty politics” after the prime minister claimed that the Congress leader skipped an official event marking the Jallianwala Bagh massacre’s centenary as he was busy doing “Congress parivar’s bhakti”. Singh alleges that the Centre deliberately held a “parallel event” instead of supporting the initiatives and programmes of the state government.

4.06 pm: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan accuses Narendra Modi of “misleading the country on the Sabarimla matter. During a campaign on Saturday, Modi had said that people in Kerala are jailed for chanting Ayyappa’s name. “This is an utter lie,” Vijayan says at a rally in Kollam. “How can a Prime Minister make such a wrong remark? If anyone was arrested, it was because they have gone against the law. In other states, Sangh Parivar activists may not land in jail or there may not be any cases against them, thanks to the blessings of Modi. But that will not happen in Kerala.”

3.55 pm: BSP chief Mayawati says Amit Shah’s claim that her party remembers Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar only during elections is untrue and mischievous. “BJP leaders have now forgotten development, black money, corruption, poverty, unemployment and farmers. Now they have started raking up patriotism and national security...but after being unsuccessful in that, they are now threatening the voters like it was done by Maneka Gandhi, which is highly condemnable,” she tweets.

3.48 pm: Union minister Smriti Irani holds a roadshow in Chennai.

3.37 pm: Narendra Modi says people who are not contesting on even 40 seats, dream to be the PM. He is referring to the SP-BSP alliance.

3.35 pm: “The SP-BSP has miscalculated the election maths, after elections the alliance will be forced to shut their shops and buy locks from Aligarh,” says Modi.

3.34 pm: At the Aligarh rally, Modi says it is the blessings of Baba Saheb Ambedkar that a chaiwala is prime minister today.

3.27 pm: Earlier in the day, Priyanka Gandhi addressed a rally in Silchar. “[The] prime minister has time to visit US and other countries but doesn’t have the time to visit his own people,” she says. “When asked the public, they said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not visited his own constituency.” Campaigning for party candidate Sushmita Dev, the Congress general secretary says, “Sushmita resembles my grandmother Indira Gandhi. She has the fighting spirits of my grandmother.”

3.21 pm: Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh.

3.20 pm: BJP President Amit Shah accuses NCP chief Sharad Pawar of spreading falsehoods. Pawar had said that late BJP leader Manohar Parrikar quit the defence ministry because he did not agree with the Rafale jet deal. “Being a former Defence Minister yourself, one expected better from you Pawar Sahab!” tweets Shah. “Your party’s falling fortunes and family fights over seats is making you nervous and spread falsehoods.”

3.15 pm: Union minister Piyush Goyal dubs the Congress NYAY scheme as a disaster that could lead to another scam. “I believe that it is near impossible because there is no data of salary and income levels of people,” he tells PTI.

3.11 pm: The BJP names candidates for three Lok Sabha constituencies in Madhya Pradesh. However, candidates for important seats like Bhopal, Vidisha and Indore are yet to be finalised.

3.08 pm: The BJP fields former MP Jaskaur Meena from Dausa Lok Sabha constituency of Rajasthan. Party leader Kirori Meena had demanded a ticket for his wife Golma Devi from the same seat.

3.04 pm: Former cricketer Rahul Dravid’s name is deleted from Karnataka voters’ list. Dravid reportedly failed to submit the Form 6 meant for re-including name in voters’ list in time.

Read more here

Karnataka EC ambassador Rahul Dravid won’t be able to vote after name is deleted from voters list

3.01 pm: The Bahujan Samaj Party announces names 16 candidates for Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh. In Ghazipur, the party has fielded Afzal Ansari, brother of jailed gangster Mukhtar Ansari while Ashok Kumar Tripathi will contest from Pratapgarh and Rangnath Mishra from Bhadohi.

2.10 pm: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy says he is not scared of income tax raids, ANI reports. “Even when [former Prime Minister HD] Deve Gowda went to somebody’s house for dinner, their house was raided,” Kumaraswamy is quoted as saying. “What kind of government is this? I do not need to learn from the prime minister. As a chief minister, I have not taken the lives of innocent people, like he did.”

1.55 pm: Union Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh offers to resign, ANI reports. “The BJP is against dynastic rule, so I thought it proper that if my son gets nominated I should resign from the Rajya Sabha and ministry,” Singh says. “So I have written to [BJP president] Amit Shahji and told him that I am ready to resign and leave the decision to the party.”

1.51 pm: Singhvi claims Election Commission has not done enough to address concerns about malfunctioning electronic voting machines, PTI reports.

1.22 pm: Singhvi claims names of lakhs of voters are deleted online without physical verification. “There is a long list the parties have given to Election Commission. It has become even more necessary to count at least 50% of the paper trail of VVPAT. We will demand the same in Supreme Court,” he says.

Last week, the Supreme Court had ordered that VVPAT slips of five EVM machines in evert constituency should be counted instead of just one. The electronic voting machines will be randomly selected. The court had said this practice will ensure the “greatest degree of accuracy, satisfaction” in the election process.

1.20 pm: Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi claims that the Election Commission is not paying attention to the questions that were raised after the first phase of elections on April 11 about EVM malfunctioning. “If you press the button before X party, vote goes to Y party,” Singhvi says, according to ANI. “VVPAT displays only for 3 seconds, instead of 7 seconds.”

1.18 pm: At an Opposition parties’ press conference in Delhi on alleged EVM malfunctioning, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu says, “The elections in Andhra Pradesh is over and now I am fighting for the country, for transparency in elections. Why so much money is being wasted on VVPATs when they are not being counted?”

In December 2018, all EVMs were called for maintenance without taking political parties in confidence, claims Naidu.

1.10 pm: Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Rabri Devi has hit back at Union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party member Ashwini Kumar Choubey over his comment that she should stay veiled. “BJP’s slogan is ‘beti bachao, beti padhao’ [the party’s campaign to educate the girl child] but such insult of daughters? It’s insulting towards all women,” ANI quotes Rabri Devi as saying. “I want to ask him, will he ask women leaders in BJP to stay under veil and at home?”

Read more here: ‘Insult to all women’: Rabri Devi hits back at BJP leader who said she should ‘stay veiled’

1.05 pm: Union minister and BJP leader Chaudhary Birender Singh offers to resign as Rajya Sabha MP and from the Cabinet as his son Brijendra Singh is given ticket to contest Lok Sabha elections from Hisar, ANI reports.

1 pm: The BJP releases its 20th list of six candidates in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Union Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh’s son Brijendra Singh will contest from Hisar in Haryana.

The party also named its candidate for bye-election to Uluberia Purba assembly constituency in West Bengal.

12.50 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis says Congress President Rahul Gandhi says ‘Garibi Hatao’, which was said by his [Gandhi’s] father and grandmother. “TV serials begin with the disclaimer that ‘all characters in this story are fictional’,” Fadnavis says, according to ANI. “In few days, TV channels will also show disclaimer ‘Yeh bhashan kalpanik hai [this speech is imaginary]’ before Rahul Gandhi’s speeches.”

12.35 pm: “According to opinion polls and surveys, BJP will get thrice the seats that Congress will win,” says the prime minister.

12.25 pm: Modi claims it was because of Congress’ policies, Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave their houses. “Congress and their allies were so concerned about their votebank, that they ignored the atrocities against Kashmir Pandits,” he says.

“I would like to ask the Congress, who would do justice when they did injustice for 60 years? Will Congress ever be able to provide justice to Kashmiri Pandits? Will they be able to provide justice to those massacred in 1984 riots?” Modi says.

12.12 pm: Modi claims the Congress, National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party have been exposed in the last few days. “The though they had for years in their mind, that has been exposed now,” he says, hinting at the Omar Abdullah’s alleged coment that Jammu and Kashmir should have a separate prime minister.

Mufti had said that India would become an occupational force and the state would be like Palestine if Article 370 was revoked. The Article in the Indian Constitution grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Read more here

‘Abdullahs, Muftis are trying to divide India’: Modi criticises the demand for separate PM for J&K

12.10 pm: Modi claims Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh boycotted a government-organised event in Jallianwala Bagh where Vice President Vankaiah Naidu was present. “The entire country was commemorating Jallianwala Bagh Centenary yesterday, but Congress politicised this sensitive occasion too,” Modi says. “He [Singh] was busy in ‘bhakti’ of Congress family. He went to Jallianwala Bagh with the naamdar [dynast], but did not find it right to attend the event with vice president.”

“I have known Amarinder Singh for a long time. I have never raised a question on his patriotism. I can understand the kind of pressure which must have been put on him for such ‘parivar bhakti’,” he adds.

11.55 am: “I have seen a powerful wave in favour of the BJP this time,” says Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Modi says the people of Jammu and Kashmir have proven the strength of democracy in India in the first phase of elections on April 11. “By coming out to vote in huge numbers in Baramulla and Jammu, you have given a befitting reply to the terrorist leaders, opportunists and people in Opposition,” he says.

11.35 am: Former NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya says the Modi government has achieved “major successes” in social sector programmes like Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi and rural electrification. “Unprecedented progress has also been made in combating corruption,” he tells PTI in an interview.

Panagariya says three major reforms taken by the Modi government were the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and direct benefit transfer.

11.26 am: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara says the Congress’ decision to give the Tumakuru Lok Sabha seat to coalition partner Janata Dal (Secular) will not reduce the party’s hold in the constituency, PTI reports. He says that the party’s ultimate goal is to see Rahul Gandhi becoming prime minister.

“The decision to allot the Tumakuru constituency to Deve Gowda will not cut down the Congress’ hold there. Our ultimate goal is to see Rahul Gandhi becoming the prime minister of India,” he says.

Janata Dal (Secular) chief HD Devegowda is contesting against former parliamentarian GS Basavaraju in Tumakuru.

11 am: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav says, “They say, as long as there is BJP government, our borders are secure. We the people of Samajwadi Party believe that as long as there are brave soldiers at our borders, the borders are secure. Governments come and go but the jawans stay at the border, protecting India.”

10.16 am: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah will become Home Minister if the BJP is voted back to power, Hindustan Times reports. “If Modi becomes the prime minister, then Amit Shah will become the home minister,” Kejriwal says. “Last time Amit Shah did not contest the Lok Sabha election. Now he is contesting from Gandhinagar. And just think what will happen to the country if Shah becomes the next home minister.” Kejriwal was speaking at a rally in Goa.

Read more here

BJP will make Amit Shah home minister if voted back to power, claims Arvind Kejriwal

9.45 am: A Telangana Rashtra Samithi polling agent was arrested on Saturday after photographs and video showed him inside the strongroom along with the Electronic Voting Machines, NDTV reports. N Venkatesh, polling agent of Malkajgiri Lok Sabha constituency candidate Marri Rajasekhar Reddy, took the photograph at the Holy Mary College in Bogaram village in Telangana.

9.20 am: Telugu Desam Party defends decision to include security researcher Hari Vemuru in its delegation to discuss concerns about electronic voting machines with the Election Commission. “Would like to state that instead of focusing on the issue, the Commission is trying to avoid the situation,” ANI quoted the party as saying.

The poll panel objected to Vemuru’s inclusion while citing a criminal case against him for theft of voting machines.

The Telugu Desam Party says a “false chargesheet” was filed against Hari Prasad Vemuru, NDTV reports.

9.10 am: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar claims that former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar quit his post because he had differences with the Centre about the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal, PTI reports. “The Rafale deal was not acceptable to Manohar Parrikar,” Pawar says. “He therefore resigned from the post of Defence minister and returned to Goa.”

8.56 am: All India Majlis-e-Ittedahul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owais says Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ties with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is stronger than the love shared by fictional couple Laila and Majnu, ANI reports. “When the love story of Nitish Kumar and Modi is written, do not ask me who is Laila and who is Majnu,” Owaisi is quoted as saying.

8.55: Congress releases latest list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.

8.45 am: 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.