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The Lok Sabha election in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, has been cancelled after amid allegations that money was distributed to voters. The constituency was scheduled to go to polls on Thursday, along with the rest of the state.
Campaigning for the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections across 97 constituencies ended on Tuesday evening. Voting in the constituencies, spread over 13 states and one Union territory, will take place on Thursday.
Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha’s wife Poonam Sinha has joined the Samajwadi Party and will contest the Lok Sabha elections against Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Lucknow.
11.02 pm: Here are the top updates from the day:
- Income Tax Department officials searched a house in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi where DMK leader Kanimozhi is staying. Lok Sabha elections will be held in the state on April 18.
- The Bihar unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party approached the Election Commission against Navjot Singh Sidhu’s appeal to Muslims to vote unitedly.
- Polling in Vellore Parliamentary seat in Tamil Nadu was cancelled after cash worth crores was seized earlier this month. President Ram Nath Kovind accepted the recommendation of the Election Commission of India, dated April 14, to rescind the polls.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed at a rally in Chattisgarh that the Congress is encouraging Maoists in the state. He blamed the Congress for supporting those who wish to divide India.
- Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said he will file a defamation case against Congress President Rahul Gandhi for his remark that all thieves share the Modi surname.
- A first information report was filed against Himachal Pradesh BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti for making derogatory remarks against Rahul Gandhi.
10.30 pm: Polling in Tripura East constituency has been postponed from April 18 to April 23 due to security reasons.
9.35 pm: The Election Commission sends a notice to Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan for a range of “highly objectionable and provocative statements” made by him in campaign rallies between April 5 and April 12 in Rampur constituency. The poll body finds him prima facie guilty of violating the Model Code of Conduct, and asks him to explain his remarks within 24 hours.
Khan is already serving a 72-hour ban on campaigning for derogatory remarks about BJP leader Jaya Prada.
9.34 pm: Income tax raids are under way at Kanimozhi’s home in Thoothukudi.
8.55 pm: Searches by Income Tax Department officials are under way at DMK leader Kanimozhi’s home in Kurinji Nagar in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu, NDTV reports. Kanimozhi is DMK’s Thoothukudi candidate.
8.53 pm: The UDF and LDF, both parties are corrupt, Amit Shah claims adding that the two parties cover for each other when either of them is in the government. “If we form govt in Kerala, we will put all the corrupt behind the bars.”
8.48 pm: Around 2,000 devotees of Sabarimala are behind bars due to the excesses of the Communists, claims Amit Shah. “In our manifesto, we have stated that we will make every effort to provide constitutional protection to Sabarimala.”
8.45 pm: Rahul Gandhi claims that he will eradicate poverty. However, none of his family member who ruled India could remove poverty, says Amit Shah in Ernakulam, Kerala. “Modi government has taken rapid strides to uplift the poor,” he adds.
8.35 pm: Yoga guru Ramdev urges people to vote for the BJP in Lok Sabha elections, adding that only Narendra Modi can protect the nation. “To make India a world economic and political superpower in next 20-25 years, we have to make Modi stronger,” he says, according to PTI. “In his hands, the country is safe; the future of our jawans is safe, honour and respect of women is safe and farms of farmers are safe.”
Ramdev said this while adressing a public gathering in support of Jaipur Rural constituency’s BJP candidate Rajyavardhan Rathore.
8.25 pm: Congress can divide the nation for politics, Modi says.
8.20 pm: Addressing a rally in Odisha’s capital Bhubaneswar, Narendra Modi says the Opposition is making false allegations everyday, but has no vision for the country. “They do not have any morals, they only have one agenda – ‘Modi Hatao’ [Remove Modi],” he says.
Modi says the Congress and its allies have lost the faith of the citizens. “The remote control-run Congress government from 2004 to 2014 had created an atmosphere such that talking about your culture and traditions was a crime,” he adds.
8 pm: The Centre cancels the visa of a Bangladeshi actor, Ferdous Ahmed, who was campaigning for the Trinamool Congress, ANI reports. Ahmed was reportedly on a business visa.
The BJP had flagged Ahmed campaigning for the Trinamool earlier, following which the Home Ministry had sought a report on the matter.
7.27 pm: President Ram Nath Kovind has accepted the recommendation of Election Commission to cancel the election in Vellore Lok Sabha constituency of Tamil Nadu. The election was scheduled for April 18. The poll panel had cited the suspected use of money to influence voters to make the recommendation.
7.26 pm: The CPI(M) writes to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, demanding action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly violating the model code of conduct and communally polarising voters by making remarks on the Sabarimala matter, PTI reports.
7.22 pm: More than 3,500 supporters of the ruling BJP-IPFT coalition and the opposition CPI(M) join the Congress in Tripura, PTI reports.
7.20 pm: The Election Commission orders a re-election in 19 polling stations of Outer Manipur constituency following complaints that voters were intimidated by militants and voting machines and VVPATs were damaged, PTI reports. The repolling will be held on April 18.
7.04 pm: The Election Commission has announced a bye-election for Chincholi Assembly constituency of Karnataka on May 19. The Congress MLA for the seat, Umesh Jadhav, had switched to the BJP in March.
7.02 pm: At a rally in Agra earlier in the afternoon, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav asked the BJP and Narendra Modi, who have termed the Opposition alliance in Uttar Pradesh a “mahamilawat [great adulteration]”, what their alliance with 38 parties should be called, Hindustan Times reports.
6.49 pm: A BJP delegation has urged the Election Commission to review its decision to bar Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath from campaigning for 72 hours, reports News18. BSP chief Mayawati, who was also banned from campaigning by the poll body on Monday, has alleged there is a hidden agenda behind the commission’s decision.
6.42 pm: At a rally in Anantnag, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad says people are now aware of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “political opportunism” and claims his “lies and deceit” cannot save the “sinking ship” of the BJP. “RSS people are handpicked and placed in independent institutions or appointed as vice chancellors,” PTI quotes Azad as saying. “This is what is called dictatorship.”
6.38 pm: A BJP delegation has complained to the Election Commission about Navjot Singh Sidhu’s remarks in Katihar earlier in the afternoon, reports ANI. “They said they have seen the footage and have assured us that necessary action will be taken,” says Bihar BJP Vice-President Devesh Kumar.
6.26 pm: The BJP has also criticised the Congress for Sidhu’s remarks, saying that dividing people is in the Opposition party’s DNA. “It is not a new norm in this party,” PTI quotes Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad as saying.
6.20 pm: The AIMIM leader says that while his party wants entire Seemanchal to progress, “Congress is still campaigning on the rotten programme of telling people to be afraid of BJP,” he adds. “The fear has disappeared, now people want justice.”
6.15 pm: All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen President Asaduddin Owaisi has lashed out at Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu for alleging that the AIMIM will help the BJP by dividing the Muslim vote in Bihar’s Katihar district. At a rally, Sidhu urged Muslims to vote unitedly against the saffron party.
“Who were you uniting when you were in the BJP?” Owasisi tweets. Sidhu was earlier with the BJP. “We [AIMIM] might be new to Seemanchal, but the backwardness of the region is old news. I have introduced a Bill for a Seemanchal Development Council for all of Seemanchal – Hindu, Muslim, Dalit, Sikh.” The districts of Purnia, Katihar, Araria, and Kishanganj are together known as Seemanchal.
5.58 pm: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reacts to Samajwadi Party’s decision to field Shatrughan Sinha’s wife Poonam Sinha against him in Lucknow. “Yes somebody must contest, that is the beauty of democracy,” he tells ANI. “We will fight elections with full dignity and etiquette, which is part of Lucknow’s heritage.”
5.37 pm: Congress leader Manish Tewari has criticised the BJP after the saffron party’s Himachal Pradesh chief Satpal Singh Satti allegedly made a derogatory comment about Rahul Gandhi at a public event on Sunday, reports PTI. “The difficulty is that the BJP has no issue,” Tewari is quoted as saying. “They have no performance. So, how do you deflect the [public’s] attention? You indulge in abuse and rhetoric.”
5.32 pm: At an election rally in Tiruvarur, DMK chief MK Stalin calls the AIADMK-BJP coalition an inefficient alliance. “Remember it is these same people who brought GST, promising that rates of essential things will come down; but you tell me rates of which things have come down?” ANI quotes him as saying.
5.29 pm: The Election Commission has also issued a show-cause notice to Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who represents Jodhpur in Parliament, for allegedly threatening public officials during his speech in Pokhran on Sunday, reports ANI.
5.21 pm: The Supreme Court has said that it is satisfied with the action taken by the Election Commission against various politicians, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and BSP chief Mayawati, for violating the model code of conduct, reports PTI. The poll body also issued curbs on Union minister Maneka Gandhi and Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan on Monday.
5.06 pm: The Samajwadi Party’s candidate in Lucknow, Poonam Sinha, will file her nomination papers on Thursday, says party leader Ravidas Mehrotra.
4.56 pm: Dilip Ghosh, the president of the BJP’s West Bengal unit, has lashed out at the Trinamool Congress, asking it how a foreign national was allowed to campaign for one of its candidates. He was referring to news reports that said Bangladeshi actor Ferdous Ahmed had sought votes for the Trinamool’s Raiganj candidate Kanhaiyalal Agarwal. Raiganj, in North Dinajpur district, goes to the polls on Thursday.
BJP’s general secretary in charge of West Bengal Kailash Vijayvargiya claimed Bangladeshis were asked to campaign for the Trinamool Congress as it was losing ground in the state.
4.48 pm: Earlier in the afternoon, Rahul Gandhi addressed an election rally in Pathanamthitta district in Kerala, where the Sabarimala temple is located. The Congress president said his party believes in allowing people to express their faith and sentiments, and will never stop them from expressing their beliefs, reports PTI.
4.29 pm: The Election Commission has decided to deploy central forces at 80% of more than 5,000 booths in three Lok Sabha seats in North Bengal in the second phase of elections on April 18, reports PTI. A few incidents of booth capture, smashing of electronic voting machines and intimidation of voters were reported from parts of Cooch Behar and Alipurduar on April 11.
4.05 pm: Samajwadi Party leader Ravidas Mehrotra has confirmed that Poonam Sinha will be the candidate of the SP-BSP-RLD alliance in Lucknow, ANI reports. She will go up against Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Mehrotra appealed to the Congress not to field a candidate in the constituency.
4 pm: Narendra Modi is now addressing a rally in Bhatapara in Chhattisgarh. He once again lashes out at Rahul Gandhi for asking why every thief has Modi in his name. The Congress president made the comment in Karnataka on Friday. “These people are crossing limits daily, according to them anyone whose name is Modi is a thief, what kind of politics is this?” Modi asks. “They have labelled a whole community as thieves only to get some applause, just to insult your ‘chowkidar’.”
3.34 pm: Shatrughan Sinha’s wife Poonam Sinha has joined Samajwadi Party in the presence of Dimple Yadav, reports ANI. She might contest the Lok Sabha elections from Lucknow against Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, according to reports.
3.32 pm: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the Foreigners Regional Registration Office to submit a report after news reports said Bangladeshi actor Ferdous Ahmed had campaigned for Trinamool Congress candidate Kanhaiyalal Agarwal in West Bengal’s North Dinajpur district.
3.26 pm: In Korba, Chhattisgarh, Narendra Modi lashes out at Rahul Gandhi for asking “why all the thieves have Modi in their names”. Gandhi had made the comment at an election rally in Karnataka on Friday. “They [Congress] have levelled an allegation that all Modi are thieves,” News18 quotes Modi as saying. “The Sahu Samaj of Chhattisgarh are known as Modi in Gujarat. Are they all thieves? Such type of language does not befit the Congress leader.”
3.18 pm: A day after the Election Commission banned BSP chief Mayawati from campaigning for 48 hours for her speech urging the Muslim community to not divide votes by choosing the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu appeals to Muslims to vote against the BJP. He was addressing a rally in Bihar’s Katihar district.
3.04 pm: The Congress has questioned alleged irregularities in Narendra Modi’s election affidavits. A writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a court-monitored investigation, Bar and Bench reported on Monday. The petitioner has alleged that Modi did not declare crucial details regarding his land assets.
In a press conference held earlier in the afternoon, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera urged the Election Commission of India to take cognizance of “the seemingly deliberate omissions in PM Modi’s affidavit and take appropriate action under the Representation of People Act”.
2.48 pm: Former Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Yadav’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) has released a list of 14 candidates for Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Haryana, reports ANI.
2.45 pm: Poonam Sinha is in the Samajwadi Party office in Lucknow at the moment, reports News18.
2.42 pm: According to reports, Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha’s wife Poonam Sinha may contest against Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Lucknow on a Samajwadi Party ticket. The Congress may support Poonam Sinha in order to dent the BJP’s votes and keep Rajnath Singh confined to the constituency, reports News18.
2.37 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is addressing a rally in Chhattisgarh’s Korba district. “I pay my respects to [BJP MLA] Bheema Mandavi and the four PSOs who lost their lives in Dantewada Naxal attack,” ANI quotes him as saying. “It is unfortunate that the attack took place in an area where presence of Naxals had reduced. Question is why did the attack happen?” Modi blamed the Congress for siding with Maoists.
2.21 pm: Katara claimed that the prime minister will know who voted for the BJP and who did not. If “there are less votes from your booth...then you will not get work”, he added. Union minister Maneka Gandhi made a similar statement in Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh recently.
2.16 pm: BJP MLA Ramesh Katara, who represents Fatehpura in the Gujarat Assembly, has reportedly attempted to initimidate voters while campaigning for Union minister Jasvantsinh Bhabhor, who is contesting from Dahod, reports ANI. “You will see the photo of Jasvantsinh Bhabhor and the lotus symbol on the EVM, look for that and press the button,” he allegedly said on Monday. “There should not be any room for error as Modi sahab has installed cameras this time.”
1.31 pm: Four Railway officials in Uttar Pradesh have been suspended after tickets with the photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi were issued to passengers at Barabanki railway station on Monday, reports ANI.
1.25 pm: A BJP delegation led by senior leaders Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Jagat Prakash Nadda will approach the Election Commission later on Tuesday to appeal against the ban on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, who has been barred from election campaigning for 72 hours, reports ANI.
1.20 pm: Election Commission officials checked the luggage of former Karnataka Chief Minister and BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa at a helipad in Shivamogga, reports ANI.
1.16 pm: The collector of Nizamabad district in Telangana has issued a notice regarding a WhatsApp video alleging electoral malpractices in the region. The video is a ETV News report shotduring last year’s Assembly elections in Rajasthan and does not concern Nizamabad, the collector added.
1.05 pm: Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of creating “war hysteria” and “fear psychosis” among the people for electoral gains, reports Greater Kashmir. He made the comment at an election rally in Bhadarwah in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district on Monday. “Modi is playing politics on the issue of Kashmiri Pandits and AFSPA”, Azad claimed.
12.59 pm: Amit Shah claims that while the Congress-led UPA government gave only Rs 88,583 crore to Karnataka under the 13th Finance Commission, the Narendra Modi government allocated Rs 3.88 lakh crore to the state under the 14th Finance Commission.
12.56 pm: BJP President Amit Shah criticises the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government in Karnataka, and accuses Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy of breaking his promise to farmers to waive farm loans. “For the Congress, the development of Karnataka is not important,” he says in Davanagere. “In fact, Karnataka is an ATM of corruption for them.”
12.47 pm: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has filed his nomination papers from Lucknow, reports ANI.
12.43 pm: Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti has tried to reach out to her former supporters, saying she did “chowkadari [gate-keeping]” and protected them from “the wrath of security forces and Ikhwan [pro-government militia]”. Mufti, who is contesting the elections from Anantnag, was reportedly dejected at the low attendance at her public meetings in South Kashmir, Greater Kashmir reported on Tuesday.
12.36 pm: Union minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has filed his nomination from Jaipur, reports ANI. He was accompanied by his wife Gayatri Rathore and yoga guru Ramdev.
12.34 pm: Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia has asked the BJP and Narendra Modi to stop bringing up Pakistan at campaign rallies, and focus on problems such as unemployment and agrarian distress. “Stop looking outwards Mr Modi and and the BJP, look inwards and resolve the issues of the country,” he tells PTI.
12.29 pm: Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi says he will file a defamation case against Congress President Rahul Gandhi at a court in Patna, reports ANI. Gandhi, in a jibe directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had asked at a public meeting in Karnataka on Friday “why all the thieves have Modi in their names”. A BJP delegation met the Election Commission on Monday to discuss the matter and register a complaint.
12.22 pm: Bangladeshi actor Ferdous Ahmed campaigned for Trinamool Congress candidate Kanhaiyalal Agarwal at Hemtabad and Karandighi in North Dinajpur district, reports India Today. He took part in a roadshow along with Tollywood actors Ankush Hazra and Payal. The BJP has acused the Trinamool Congress of violating the Model Code of Conduct.
12.06 pm: Modi says discrimination on the basis of caste and religion are the only achievements of Congress and the Biju Janata Dal, reports PTI. “For 20 years you trusted Odisha’s government blindly but now the people of the state want change,” he says, according to ANI. “Once we come to power in the state we will implement Ayushman Bharat Yojana.”
12.02 pm: Modi says there was no one to stop corruption earlier, but the BJP government has brought transparency, according to News18. “Now in Delhi, you have a ‘majboot sarkar’,” he says. “Before that, we had ‘majboor sarkar’. Now our opposition is very much hurt by the steps taken by our government.”
11.59 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticises the Odisha government led by Naveen Patnaik. “The central government procures rice at Rs 19-30/kg and sends it to Odisha,” he says. “Odisha government have to add only Rs 2/kg to it. However, they claim that they provide rice at subsidised rate to the people of Odisha. It’s an utter lie.”
11.57 am: Actor Prakash Raj, who is contesting from the Bengaluru Central seat as an independent, says he is not fighting against anyone, reports ANI. “I’m fighting for the people,” he says. “It’s we who are the majority. In a democracy, if you choose the right leader, people win, if you choose wrong leader, people lose.”
11.54 am: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor praises Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for visiting him in hospital in Kerala despite her campaigning schedule. Tharoor was injured on Monday while performing a ritual at a temple.
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11.52 am: The Supreme Court dismisses Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati’s objections to the Election Commission’s order that barred her from campaigning for 48 hours. The court asked her to file a separate plea against the poll body’s gag order.
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11.50 am: “Previously, nobody raised their voice against terrorism,” says Modi, according to Hindustan Times. “You have seen a helpless, corrupt government before the present government. It managed to do corruption in every field.”
11.46 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a rally in Sambalpur, Odisha, reports ANI. Modi says people support the BJP because they want a strong government.
11.43 am: The Shiva Sena says Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti has warned that the state will not remain a part of India if Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution, which grant special status to Jammu and Kashmir, are repealed.
“Until yesterday, the same person was chief minister with support of the BJP,” the Sena says in the editorial. “Even her anti-national mindset is old. Yet, the BJP got friendly with them while we kept opposing their alliance.”
11.39 am: The Shiv Sena says Prime Minister Narendra Modi must commit to not include the Peoples Democratic Party, National Conference and the Nationalist Congress Party in the National Democratic Alliance even if it falls short of numbers, PTI reports.
“Tomorrow, whatever may be the case on the numbers required to form the government, there will be no relationship with those who talk of dividing the nation,” says an editorial in the Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna. “And those who have ruined three generations of Kashmiris will not get a place in Modi’s cabinet or the NDA...If those supporting anti-nationals today sit with nationalists for political reasons, it will be an insult to our jawans.”
11.34 am: Election officials in Maharashtra ask production houses of two Hindi TV serials to get “politically influential” content vetted by them before it is telecast, PTI reports. The Congress had objected to characters in the two TV serials praising government schemes like Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.
Maharashtra’s Additional Chief Electoral Officer Dilip Shinde says the content that was aired violated the poll code.
11.31 am: Gandhi says Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonetised the economy and the “Gabbar Singh Tax” damaged the economy, reports News18. He says: “You have to realise and understand there is no shortage of money, Modi says where will the money come from? I want to make it clear that not a rupee will come from the middle class, income tax will not be raised.”
11.28 am: Gandhi says the prime minister talks about a “Congress mukt Bharat” or an India free of Congress, reports ANI. “What Congress says to Narendra Modi is we don’t agree with you,” he says. “We’ll fight you to convince you, you are wrong. We will beat you in the election but we won’t use violence against you.”
11.26 am: “There is an ideological fight taking place with BJP on one side and the Congress and the UDF on other,” says Gandhi, according to News18. “In the last five years, Modi promised two crore jobs to youngsters, 15 lakh rupees in every account, correct prices to farmers. But he has not fulfilled even a single one.”
11.23 am: Gandhi says the country is “currently under attack” from the BJP and the RSS, reports News18. “They want to suppress all other voices other than their own,” he says. “They believe that only one idea should rule India. But we believe that Indian people should rule India.”
11.21 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi says he chose to contest from Wayanad in Kerala to send across a message that India is not just one perspective, reports ANI. “India is not just one idea, India is million and millions of different viewpoints, different perspectives and all of those are important to us.” Gandhi is addressing a rally at Kollam, Kerala.
11.14 am: Union minister Rajnath Singh holds a road show in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh ahead of filing his nomination paper for the seat, reports ANI.
11.07 am: The Supreme Court was examining the Election Commission’s scope of powers to deal with political leaders and candidates violating the Model Code of Conduct. “Seems like you got powers,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi tells the poll body’s counsel, reports Bar and Bench.
“We found we have several powers,” senior advocate Aryama Sundaram, on behalf of the Election Commission, tells the court.
11.01 am: Supreme Court observes that the Election Commission has “woken up to its powers” after the poll body ordered a ban on campaigning by Adityanath, Maneka Gandhi, Mayawati and Azam Khan, reports Live Law.
The Supreme Court also refused to hear Mayawati when she intervened to bring up the 48-hour campaign ban imposed on her and asked her counsel to file a separate plea against the Election Commission’s order.
10.56 am: Siddaramaiah claims that electronic voting machines were rigged in the 2014 elections and the same could happen this time. “They cannot tamper all EVMs, it is done selectively,” he says. “I don’t think BJP will get the majority.”
When asked if the Congress will re-introduce ballot papers if it comes to power, he said: “Of course, we will do it 100 per cent. EVMs will go, ballot paper will be introduced.”
10.50 am: Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah alleges that the Election Commission is “under pressure” from the Narendra Modi government to not take action on complaints of political parties over alleged tampering of electronic voting machines and demands for re-introduction of ballot paper.
“All political parties met the Election Commission several times and raised concern about EVMs but it did not act on the complaints,” Siddaramaiah tells PTI. “I think the EC is under pressure from the Modi government.”
10.46 am: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the Congress was soft on terrorism, PTI reports. “Incursion by the Chinese army, which was a regular affair during the Congress-led UPA government, ended after Narendra Modi became the prime minister,” Adityanath said at election rallies in Odisha. “Similarly, Pakistan was beheading our soldiers on the border during the UPA rule. Now with Modi as the prime minister, China and Pakistan cannot afford to indulge in misadventures.”
10.39 am: A Jammu-based activist filed a complaint with the Election Commission against Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti over a seditious tweet, PTI reports.
Activist Sukesh C Khajuria was referring to Mufti’s tweet which said: “Why waste time in court. Wait for BJP to scrap Article 370. It will automatically debar us from fighting elections since Indian constitution won’t be applicable to J&K anymore.”
Khajuria said the tweet was “blatantly seditious, threatening unity and integrity of the country”.
10.34 am: Preparations are under way for polls in Ramanathapuram parliamentary constituency in Tamil Nadu, reports ANI. “We are fully prepared to conduct free and fair elections,” says the district collector. Elections will be held in Tamil Nadu during the second phase on April 18.
10.31 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address two rallies each in Odisha and Chhattisgarh, while BJP chief Amit Shah will address public meetings in Kerala and Karnataka.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will address rallies at Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Alappuzha in Kerala.
10.25 am: Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das criticised the Congress, saying the country witnessed the highest number of terrorist attacks and corruption cases during its dispensation at the Centre, reports PTI. “The corrupt Congress party broke the morale of the Army,” Das said. He said the general elections will set the course and direction of the country.
10.08 am: Two railway employees suspended after they issued tickets with photos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Barabanki railway station in Uttar Pradesh, reports ANI. An assistant divisional manager says an old roll of tickets were used by mistake and a departmental inquiry is under way.
10.02 am: Congress leader Shashi Tharoor thanks Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for visiting him at the hospital. “Touched by the gesture of Nirmala Sitharaman, who dropped by today morning to visit me in the hospital, amid her hectic electioneering in Kerala,” he says on Twitter. “Civility is a rare virtue in Indian politics - great to see her practice it by example!”
Tharoor was admitted to a hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala after he was injured while performing a ritual at a temple on Monday.
9.45 am: The Election Commission issued a show cause notice to West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh for threatening to take off the trousers of a poll panel official who had removed a hoarding promoting him, reports IANS. The Election Commission had taken off the hoarding as it was “put up in violation of the Model Code of Conduct”.
9.40 am: Election Commission’s official spokesperson Sheyphali Sharan says the poll body has not issued an order regarding cancellation of elections for Vellore Lok Sabha seat, reports ANI.
9.29 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said sacrifice of soldiers and nationalism are key election issues. In a joint interview to DD News and Rajya Sabha TV, Modi asked: “In a country where thousands of its soldiers have been martyred, shouldn’t that be an election issue? If farmers die, then it is an election issue, but when soldiers die then it is not an election issue?”
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9.24 am: Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the party will give an explanation to the Supreme Court on Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on the Rafale case verdict, according to PTI. “Remember Modi ji when he had said that the Supreme Court has ‘given me a clean chit’,” Sibal said seeking to equate Gandhi’s comments with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s on the Rafale jet deal.
The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to Congress President Rahul Gandhi on a contempt petition filed against him by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Meenakshi Lekhi.
9.19 am: The Election Commission banned the telecast of a campaign video of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam for allegedly levelling “unverified allegations” reportedly about the Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu, reports PTI.
A communication from Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo’s office said political parties were airing publicity material in electronic and social media without approval of the state-level Media Certification and Monitoring Committee. Even if the contents were approved by the MCMC, the certification number was not being telecast along with the advertisement, it said.
9.15 am: BJP National Vice-President Vasundhara Raje criticised Congress for its proposed minimum income scheme – NYAY, reports PTI. “What was Congress doing for 55 years?” she said during an election rally in support of BJP candidates in Jaipur. “They are now talking about justice. Congress slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’ [remove poverty] is still going on. They could not eliminate poverty while remaining in power for 55 years.”
9 am: Former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh described his former party colleague Azam Khan as “filth and muck” of politics, PTI reports. “Azam Khan is the filth and muck of Indian politics,” says Singh. “He symbolises all the evils of the society.”
On Khan’s alleged remarks against BJP leader Jayaprada, Singh said: “Even in the last election he had distributed Jaya Prada’s morphed pictures, besides launching a vicious propaganda against me and her.”
8.50 am: Residents of Jagat Bandhu Lane area in Silchar, Assam, to boycott elections over shortage of water in the area. Residents say they have face water shortage for almost seven months and will not support any party in the elections, reports ANI.
8.45 am: Villagers in Dokada, Chhattisgarh, to boycott polls over lack of roads in the village, reports ANI. “We will not go to cast our vote till our demand of road development in the village is fulfilled,” say villagers.
8.40 am: The Election Commission has recommended to President Ram Nath Kovind that elections in the Vellore parliamentary constituency scheduled to be held on Thursday be cancelled after Income Tax officials seize cash.
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8.30 am: Here are the top updates from Monday:
- The Election Commission banned Union minister Maneka Gandhi from campaigning for 48 hours and Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan for 72 hours for violating the Model Code of Conduct. The bans will begin at 10 am on Tuesday.
- The Election Commission banned Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath from campaigning for 72 hours and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati for 48 hours for violating the poll code. The ban is effective from 6 am on Tuesday.
- Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav questioned the Election Commission’s integrity after the poll body banned Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati from campaigning for 48 hours for violating the Model Code of Conduct.
- Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal engaged in a verbal spat on Twitter over talks of an alliance between their parties in Delhi. Gandhi said his party was still open to an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi, while Kejriwal said Congress did not really want an alliance.
- Union minister Maneka Gandhi told villagers in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit district that she will grade villages according to the number of votes she receives and will prioritise development work correspondingly.
- Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi said the reality is very different from what the Bharatiya Janata Party wants to portray through its propaganda.