11.02 pm: Here are the top updates from the day:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the BJP’s decision to field Malegaon blasts accused Pragya Singh Thakur from the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat. He wondered why the media did not ask questions when thousands of Sikhs were killed in the 1984 violence.
  • Modi announced Rs 10 lakh accident insurance cover to all GST-registered entities. He added that a National Traders’ Welfare Board will be set up and the government will provide a collateral-free loan of up to Rs 50 lakh. 
  • BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Thakur retracted her remarks about deceased Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare, saying she did not wish to please “enemies”.
  • The Election Commission said bye-polls to Agra North and Darjeeling Assembly constituencies will be held on May 19.
  • Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati campaigned for her rival, Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav in Mainpuri, where he is a candidate. She said Yadav is not a “fake OBC” like Narendra Modi.
  • Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi resigned from the party and joined the Shiv Sena. In a letter to Rahul Gandhi, she cited misbehaviour by party members.
  • The poll panel said Narendra Modi’s plea to first-time voters to dedicate votes to defence forces is still under review.

10.56 pm: Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi leader Prakash Ambedkar claims at a rally in Maharashtra’s Jalna that Narendra Modi talks about his caste only during the elections, PTI reports. Ambedkar also attacks Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan, and promises to institute a fresh inquiry in the Adarsh Housing Society scam if he comes to power.

10.53 pm: The Bahujan Samaj Party’s Raipur Lok Sabha candidate Khileshwar Kumar Sahu says he will support the Congress nominee, Pramod Dubey, PTI reports. “I don’t have enough party workers or funds. I have not got any funds from the BSP to contest the polls,” he says. “I like the work of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and so have decided to support Pramod Dubey, the Congress candidate for Raipur Lok Sabha seat.”

10.50 pm: Delhi’s Chief Electoral Office says 169 first information reports have filed against political entities for violations of the Model Code of Conduct so far, PTI reports. The code came into effect on March 10, when the Lok Sabha election dates were announced.

10.40 pm: A PIL has been filed in the Allahabad High Court against the NYAY scheme mentioned in the Congress manifesto, ANI reports. The court has issued a notice to the Congress to reply within 10 days. The next hearing in the case has been fixed for May 13.

10.30 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav says the Congress misused the Central Bureau of Investigation and made its leaders undergo inquiries, ANI reports. “The prominent leader of Congress who gave money for public interest litigation against Neta Ji [Mulayam Singh Yadav] and our family, is still a part of Congress,” he adds.

9.50 pm: Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MLA Prakash Bhai Patel announces support for Narendra Modi after denouncing the seat sharing deal of Opposition parties of Jharkhand, PTI reports. Patel’s move comes after the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leadership ignored his request to nominate him either in Giridh or Hazaribagh Lok Sabha constituency.

While the Hazaribagh seat went to Congress in the Opposition’s seat sharing deal, JMM nominated another MLA Jagarnath Mahato for Giridh. “I have decided to support NDA candidates in all the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand,” he says.

9.42 pm: Modi says Congress is fighting from a small number of seats in these elections. “The 2014 election results was the lowest tally for the Congress in any election that has been fought since Independence,” he tells Times Now. “They had the least number of lawmakers that came into Parliament. And in 2019 elections, it is significant to note, that for the first time since Independence, the Congress is fighting from such a small number of seats...they do not even have candidates to field. They have been forced to hunt for allies and partners. This is a matter that the Indian media has missed.”

9.35 pm: Congress leader Hardik Patel claims the man who slapped him during a rally in Surendranagar was connected to BJP leaders. “The BJP is trying to attack and kill me the same way Haren Pandya was murdered and fake encounters were done,” Patel tells ANI. “Man who slapped me is connected to BJP leaders, you can see it on his Facebook profile.”

9.30 pm: Narendra Modi says the people of the country “heartily extended” their support to the Centre for demonetisation. He said groups with “vested interests” tried to instigate people at the time of note ban. “The tears of those who lost their money have not dried yet but there is a spark in the eyes of the poor,” he tells Times Now in an interview.

8.47 pm: “For next poll due in Tripura East, postponed now to April 23, we hope there will be proper guarantees of safety for each voter,” ANI quotes Sitaram Yechury as saying.

Read more

In Tripura, BJP is accused of poll-rigging and intimidating voters by opposition parties

8.43 pm: CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury calls for repolling in 464 booths in Tripura West after the poll body established that there were large-scale irregularities and booth capturing in the parliamentary constituency during elections on April 11, reports ANI.

According to NDTV, the Tripura West district collector has noted in a report that “it is apparent from viewing of pre-recorded video footage that the poll process was vitiated in eight polling stations”.

8.30 pm: Pragya Singh Thakur calls Hemant Karkare a martyr, ANI reports. “He [Hemant Karkare] died from the bullets of terrorists from the enemy country, he is certainly a martyr.”

8.22 pm: The BJP candidate from Bhopal, Pragya Singh Thakur, apologises for saying former Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare died in the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai because she had cursed him. Karkare investigated the 2008 Malegaon blast case in which Thakur is an accused. “I felt that the enemies of the country were being benefited from it, therefore I take back my statement and apologise for it, it was my personal pain,” ANI quotes her as saying.

8.16 pm: The BJP unit in Madhya Pradesh alleges that insulting women is normal for the Congress. “Allegations against Pragya ji were fabricated and she was implicated in a false case, she was accused her of being a terrorist, and she had to face inhumane torture,” the party tweets. “The party also insulted its [former] leader Priyanka Chaturvedi.”

8.06 pm: BJP President Amit Shah has reiterated his party’s promise to abrogate Article 370, which gives a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, after winning majority in both houses of Parliament, reports PTI. He made the remark at an election rally in Dharampur in Gujarat’s Valsad district earlier in the evening.

7.58 pm: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot accuses Prime Minister Narendra Modi of playing the caste card at election rallies. “Whenever he feels that he is lagging behind, he misleads people by talking about religion, nationalism, Pakistan and him being from the backward class,” PTI quotes from a statement issued by the Congress leader.

Read more

Lok Sabha polls: PM Modi claims Congress is abusing him and insulting his ‘backward community’

7.50 pm: Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition in Kerala, Ramesh Chennithala, accuses Prime Minister Narendra Modi of shedding crocodile tears during the Sabarimala agitation. He asks why the Centre did not frame laws or issue an ordinance after the Supreme Court, in September, allowed women of all ages to offer prayers at the Ayappa hill shrine.

7.45 pm: The BJP has filed a police complaint against Trinamool Congress supporters for allegedly ransacking the rented residence of its Lok Sabha candidate from Hooghly, Locket Chatterjee, reports ANI.

7.23 pm: Kerala BJP President PS Sreedharan Pillai accuses the police of filing a fabricated case against him after he allegedly made anti-Islam remarks at an election rally in Attingal on April 14, reports PTI. Pillai says he is prepared to end his public life if found guilty.

7.12 pm: The Election Commission has changed the poll timings for all three phases of elections in the Anantnag constituency of Jammu and Kashmir. Elections will be held from 7 am to 4 pm, says the poll body.

7.02 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi reacts to BJP leader and terror accused Pragya Singh Thakur’s comments about former Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, who died in 2008 terror attack in Mumbai. “Hemant Karkare gave his life protecting India,” Gandhi tweets. “He must be treated with respect.”

6.59 pm: The AAP has postponed the nomination of three of its candidates in Delhi in an effort to form an alliance with the Congress, PTI quotes senior party leader Gopal Rai as saying. Atishi, AAP’s candidate from East Delhi, Chandini Chowk candidate Pankaj Gupta and North West candidate Guhan Singh were scheduled to file their nominations on Saturday.

Read more

As uncertainty reigns over alliance with AAP, Congress and BJP hold back on naming Delhi candidates

6.53 pm: The Election Commission bars Himachal Pradesh BJP President Satpal Singh Satti from election campaigning for 48 hours, starting 10 am on Saturday, for violating the Model Code of Conduct, reports ANI. Satti made derogatory remarks about Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

Watch the video

Watch: A BJP leader used abusive words for Rahul Gandhi while campaigning in Himachal Pradesh

6.39 pm: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan accuses Prime Minister Narendra Modi of levelling false allegations against the state and says such remarks are unbecoming of his position. At public meet starting from 10 am tomorrow

ings in the state on Thursday, Modi claimed that Left Front government registers cases if anyone utters God’s name. “It is unfortunate that such an untruthful and concocted campaign has been unleashed by the prime minister,” PTI quotes Vijayan as saying.

6.34 pm: The Congress has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to apologise to the country for the comments of the party’s candidate in Bhopal and Malegaon blast case accused Pragya Singh Thakur. “Modi ji, only BJP leaders can commit the crime of declaring 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare a traitor,” PTI quotes Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala as saying. “This is an insult to every Indian soldier who has sacrificed his life for Mother India while fighting terrorism. Apologise to the country and take action against Pragya.”

6.29 pm: CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has questioned Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest the elections from Wayanad in Kerala, reports PTI. “What is the message he is giving by contesting against the Left in Kerala unlike his mother or grandmother, who had contested against the BJP from Karnataka?” Yechury asks.

6.05 pm: The BJP distances itself from Pragya Singh Thakur’s comment that former Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare died during the Mumbai terror attack in 2008 because she had cursed him. “The BJP believes that Karkare died while bravely fighting terrorists. The BJP has always considered him a martyr ,” the party says in a statement, according to PTI.

The party says the comment is Thakur’s view. BJP claims Thakur had suffered “physical and mental torture” for years in police custody which might have caused her to make such a statement, PTI reports.

5.50 pm: Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) President Shivpal Singh Yadav warns people about the SP-BSP combine, saying the alliance partners are “experts in spreading canards and lies”, reports News18. “The alliance is betraying all sections of the society, including farmers, youth, businessmen, women and minorities,” he says.

5.46 pm: Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury urges Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to explain whether he is keen on fighting the BJP or the Left, PTI reported. Yechury says Gandhi’s decision to contest from Left stronghold-Wayanad in Kerala has sent out a different message.

“In all the 20 seats of Kerala, the contest is between the Congress-led UDF and Left-led LDF, whether its Rahul Gandhi or XYZ candidate,” says Yechury. “Now what does Rahul Gandhi want to do is up to him. What is the message he is giving by contesting against the Left in Kerala unlike his mother or grandmother who had contested against the BJP from Karnataka. He should tell the country whether he is keen on fighting BJP or the Left. He should clarify this.”

5.38 pm: The Indian Police Service Association criticises BJP leader Pragya Singh Thakur for saying former Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare died during the Mumbai terror attack in 2008 because she had cursed him.

Read more here:

IPS Association condemns Pragya Singh Thakur’s comment about former ATS chief Hemant Karkare

5.31 pm: Office of a BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Dum Dum in West Bengal, Samik Bhattacharya, ransacked, reports ANI. A BJP member suffered injuries in the attack.

5.29 pm: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi holds meetings with senior party leaders to finalise the campaign strategy of her brother and party chief, Rahul Gandhi, who is seeking reelection from Amethi, reports PTI.

5.25 pm: Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala says it is painful for the party when a member leaves. “People look for career progression,” ANI quotes him as saying. “We wish all of them well, including Priyanka Chaturvedi...I must frankly [and] on record concede, yes, it’s a reflection on my leadership.”

4.59 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath claims in Etawah that in elections around the world, India and Modi are now electoral matters, ANI reports. “In the 2016 United States presidential election, Donald Trump had said ‘If I become the President I will work in the way PM Modi is working for the development of India’.”

4.50 pm: The Election Commission has issued a notice to Rahul Gandhi for banners reading “Ab Hoga Nyay” put up in his constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, NDTV reports. The notice says a banner was put up on a building without the permission of either the owner or electoral officers. In all, the poll panel found seven such banners in Amethi. Gandhi has been asked to reply within 24 hours.

4.41 pm: Surjewala says that the BJP has touched a new low by labelling Karkare as Raavan and a demon. “Karkare, who captured Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab, but lost his life to save the people of his country, is now being labelled a traitor by the BJP,” he says. “Modiji, ask for forgiveness from the country for the traitorous statements of your party.”

4.33 pm: Congress leader Randeep Surjewala condemns BJP Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur’s comments on former ATS chief Hemant Karkare. “The BJP has insulted martyrs,” alleges Surjewala. He claims that the BJP has labelled the martyrs of 26/11 as terrorists.

4.26 pm: Unidentified miscreants ransack BJP’s Hooghly candidate Locket Chatterjee’s rented house in Bandel, reports ANI. The BJP blames TMC workers for the incident.

4.13 pm: BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa mocks JD(S) leader HD Deve Gowda for saying that he will sit by Rahul Gandhi’s side if the latter becomes the prime minister. “He [Deve Gowda] is fighting on 7 seats and has ambitions of being [the] prime minister or advisor to prime minister?” asks Yeddyurappa.

4.07 pm: The IPS Association condemns BJP nominee Pragya Singh Thakur’s comments on late Hemant Karkare. “Ashok Chakra awardee late Sri Hemant Karkare, IPS, made the supreme sacrifice fighting terrorists. Those of us in uniform condemn the insulting statement made by a candidate and demand that sacrifices of all our martyrs be respected,” the association tweets.

4.05 pm: Madhya Pradesh chief electoral officer tells ANI that they have received a complaint received against BJP Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Singh Thakur for her comments on former Mumbai ATS Chief Hemant Karkare. “Cognizance taken. The matter is under enquiry,” he adds.

3.54 pm: Addressing a rally in Valod, Gujarat, Congress president Rahul Gandhi says his party’s Nyay scheme will help revive the economy and create jobs in the country. “We have promised to give Rs 72,000 crore [a year] to poor people under the Nyay scheme which will change the economic condition of the poor in the country,” he adds. Gandhi says demonetisation and GST “were big blows to our economy”.

3.43 pm: After the SP-BSP joint rally in Mainpuri, the BJP says there is not a wave but a storm in favour of Narendra Modi, and that has forced opposition leaders to come together. “Both SP and BSP have been rendered powerless by it [the storm] and have come together to survive,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain tells PTI. “This is a proof of storm in Modi’s support. People in Uttar Pradesh and country are with Modi.”

3.37 pm: AAP leader Gopal Rai says they are giving Congress another chance to form an alliance, reports ANI. “We have given Congress a last chance to think it over, let’s see what happens,” he adds.

3.30 pm: Addressing a rally in Tapi district of Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi alleges that the Rafale jet deal was a small theft for Narendra Modi. “PM Modi has committed bigger theft from the houses of Gujarat farmers,” he claims. The Congress president adds that he is the chowkidar of the farmers.

3.18 pm: BJP leader Nalin Kohli distances the party from Pragya Singh Thakur’s comments about Hemant Karkare. “What Pragyaji has said, that would evidently be her point of view perhaps because she herself underwent an investigation,” Nalin Kohli tells ANI. “We salute [the] sacrifice of Karkareji and won’t do politics on it.”

3.14 pm: AAP delays nomination of three candidates to give Congress another chance, reports News18. The nominees were supposed to file their papers on Saturday.

3 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claims neither the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance nor the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance will form the government after the Lok Sabha elections, News18 reports. In an interview to the news channel, the Trinamool Congress chief says West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh will play a critical role in forming the government at the Centre.

Read more here

2019 elections: NDA and UPA will not form government, says Mamata Banerjee

2.59 pm: The Janata Dal (United) writes to Election Commission seeking cancellation of nominations of RJD candidates in case they were issued tickets with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s signature, reports PTI. JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar says they want to know if the RJD chief, who was serving sentences in fodder scam cases, has sought the court’s permission to sign the tickets.

2.40 pm: Maharashtra State Election Commission files a complaint against South Mumbai candidate Milind Deora for violating the Model Code of Conduct with his comment on the Jain community, reports ANI. During a speech at Zaveri Bazaar, Deora had asked the community not to vote for Shiv Sena.

2.34 pm: A student gets injured as violence breaks out in Darjeeling, West Bengal, reports PTI. The constituency voted on Thursday.

Unidentified men hurl bombs and fire bullets in Chopra area. State police personnel have been sent to the spot. “We are trying to find out who all are creating disturbances in the area. No one has been arrested so far,” an unidentified official tells PTI.

2.26 pm: Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth says that he is ready to contest in the next Assembly elections, reports News18. “Whenever the state Assembly elections happen, I’m ready to face it,” he says. “I don’t want to disappoint my followers. No change in my stand.”

2.22 pm: Congress leader Digvijaya Singh reminds BJP’s Pragya Singh Thakur that the Election Commission has said that no political comments should be made on Army and martyrs. “Hemant Karkareji was an honest and committed officer who attained martyrdom for the people of Mumbai in a terror attack,” says Singh. His comments come after the Malegaon blast accused claimed that Karkare died because she had cursed him.

2.09 pm: “Congress let me down...I spent good ten years of life in politics, but respect of women remains my top agenda,” says Chaturvedi. “I was disturbed after goons were reinstated in the party. I felt let down .. This meant that me as a party member did not matter to them.”

2.06 pm: Priyanka Chaturvedi says she thought a lot before joining the Shiv Sena. “I know I will be held accountable for my past statements and my views and that how I came to this conclusion but I would like to say that this decision of joining Shiv Sena I have taken after a lot of thought,” she adds.

2.01 pm: Priyanka Chaturvedi says she had wanted a Lok Sabha ticket and was hopeful, but denies that she quit the Congress because she did not get one. “There was never a doubt in my mind that if that decision would not come my way, it would lead to bitterness,” she says.

1.59 pm: “I will work to strengthen the Shiv Sena and will take its ideas across the country,” Chaturvedi says at a press conference. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is also there at the press conference.

1.58 pm: Priyanka Chaturvedi, who has resigned from the Congress, confirms at a press conference that she is joining the Shiv Sena.

Read more here

Priyanka Chaturvedi joins Shiv Sena after resigning from Congress

1.52 pm: At a rally, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath says: “When Mayawati came to power, she stopped Janmashtami celebrations, and when Samajwadi Party came, they stopped Kanwar yatra. They discriminated...they said they will give money for boundary wall for kabristan [Muslim burial ground] but not for shamshan ghat [cremation ground], my government put an end to that discrimination. We said if kabristan will get money, we will give budget for shamshan ghat also.”

Adityanath completed his 72-hour ban on election campaigning on Friday morning.

1.35 pm: At the rally in Mainpuri, Mayawati says that Mulayam Singh Yadav is not a “fake OBC like Narendra Modi”. “It is well-known that when he was in power in Gujarat, Narendra Modi misused power to give the OBC status to the upper caste he belongs to,” she claims. “He also used his OBC tag to get electoral benefit in the 2014 elections and also became the prime minister. But you know that a fake OBC person cannot do any good to backward classes with full dedication and honesty.”

Yadav is the Samajwadi Party’s candidate from Mainpuri constituency.

Read more here

2019 polls: Former rival Mayawati campaigns for Mulayam Singh Yadav in Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat

1.27 pm: Congress leader Abhijit Mukherjee denies West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s claim that the BJP and RSS are supporting his candidature in the Lok Sabha elections. He says it is an imaginary and baseless claim, ANI reports. Mukherjee is the son of former President Pranab Mukherjee and a candidate from the Jangipur constituency.

1.21 pm: The joint rally by Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav in Mainpuri is under way, ANI reports.

1.12 pm: Police file a case against Tripura Congress chief Pradyot Kishore Debburman for slapping a supporter of rival Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, who had allegedly made an attempt to attack the convoy of his sister Pragya Debburman, PTI reports.

12.56 pm: “This is between her and Congress,” senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal tells ANI after Priyanka Chaturvedi’s resignation.

12.52 pm: After quitting the Congress, Priyanka Chaturvedi may join the Shiv Sena, some reports claim.

12.30 pm: Congress leader Hardik Patel files a police complaint after he was slapped during a rally in Surendranagar, Gujarat, earlier in the day, ANI reports.

12.25 pm: In her resignation letter to Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Chaturvedi writes that in the last few weeks, “certain things have convinced me that my services are not valued in the organisation and that I have reached the end of the road”.

She says, “A serious incident and misbehaviour against me by certain party members while I was on official duty for the party has been ignored under the guise of all hands needed for elections. This indignity to me has been the final factor to convince me to move on and focus on other things outside INC.”

The letter is dated April 18.

Read more here: Priyanka Chaturvedi resigns from Congress

12.12 pm: BJP leader Pragya Singh Thakur tells party workers that she had cursed former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare during his investigation of the Malegaon blasts, and within a month or so, he was killed by terrorists in the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

Read more here: Mumbai terror squad chief Hemant Karkare died after I cursed him, brags BJP’s Pragya Thakur

12.09 pm: Election authorities in Goa warn government employees of strict disciplinary action if they are found campaigning for any particular party or candidate in the state, PTI reports.

12.05 pm: ANI news agency tweets a video of Congress leader Hardik Patel being slapped by a man during a rally in Gujarat.

11.46 am: Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi quits party, claim several media reports. On Thursday night, she removed all mention of the party from her Twitter bio. Chaturvedi had criticised the Congress for reinstating party leaders who had allegedly misbehaved with her.

10.52 am: Posters featuring an ailing Pragya Singh Thakur, the Malegaon blasts accused who is the BJP’s candidate from Bhopal, with the Congress slogan ‘Ab Hoga Nyay’ come up across Delhi, reports News18. BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, who signed the posters, shares one of them on Twitter. On Thursday, Thakur alleged that she was tortured when she was in custody.

9.55 am: The Election Commission said on Thursday that it was still reviewing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in Latur, Maharashtra, earlier this month, to decide if it violated the Model Code of Conduct, reports The Indian Express. At a rally on April 9, Modi had urged first-time voters to dedicate their votes to the defence forces in the wake of the Pulwama attack and the Balakot air strike.

Read more here

Modi’s plea to first-time voters to dedicate votes to defence forces still under review, says EC

9.46 am: Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Deve Gowda says circumstances have forced him to contest the elections. “I have no ambition for anything but what I always said I am not going to retire from active politics,” he tell ANI. “I will sit by Rahul Gandhi’s side if he becomes Prime Minister,” he adds.

9.42 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address traders in New Delhi today.

9.41 am: Congress leader Digvijaya Singh is likely to file his nomination from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat later in the day, reports News18.

9.40 am: BJP President Amit Shah will address a rally in Gujarat’s Chhota Udaipur and Valsad districts today.

9.39 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to campaign in Tapi district of Gujarat and Raichur and Chikodi in Karnataka today.

9.38 am: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will hold a roadshow in Kanpur today. She will be campaigning for party candidate Sriprakash Jaiswal.

9.32 am: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday said Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s speeches have high “humour quotient”. “Rahul Gandhi’s speeches are known for two things. One is that he utters curses against Prime Minister Modi and second is that he is known for his jokes,” Fadnavis said at a rally in Sankhalim.

9.31 am: Navjot Singh Sidhu on Thursday rejected the Congress’ Bhatinda Lok Sabha seat ticket to his wife Navjot Kaur, reports Hindustan Times. She had asked for a ticket from Chandigarh. “I am honoured by the offer, but I told the party that I will not be able to canvass in Bathinda for my wife while crisscrossing the country for the party’s campaign. It will not be fair to her or to the party,” said Sidhu.

9.27 am: A farmer in Mahisagar district of Gujarat on Thursday refused to give permission to Congress leader Hardik Patel to land as a helipad, reports NDTV. Patel had to cancel his helicopter ride at the last minute, and had to travel by road to Lunawada, around 100km from Ahmedabad, to address an election rally.

9.14 am: Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav will address a joint rally in Mainpuri today. Yadav is contesting from Mainpuri. It will be the first time that Yadav and Mayawati will be sharing the stage since 1995. Akhilesh Yadav and and RLD chief Ajit Singh will also attend the rally.

8.50 am: Here are the top updates from Thursday:

  • The second phase of voting concluded with an estimated voter turnout of 67.55%. The figure was revised to 68.66% at 8 am on Friday. Violence was reported in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Voters from several states complained of EVM malfunctions and that their names were deleted from electoral lists.
  • The father of a Malegaon blasts victim filed a plea to restrain Pragya Thakur from contesting elections. Omar Abdullah asked how she can contest polls if she is on bail on health grounds. Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti also sparred on Twitter over the BJP leader, while Tehseen Poonawalla wrote to the EC and asked it to debar Pragya Singh Thakur. The BJP, however, defended its decision to field her.
  • The Election Commission warned Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi for ‘Modiji ki Sena’ remark. It also banned Madhya Pradesh Congress’ campaign which uses ‘chowkidar chor hai’ slogan. The AIADMK, meanwhile, lodged an EC complaint against DMK leaders MK Stalin and Dayanidhi Maran.
  • BSP chief Mayawati accused the EC of being anti-Dalit and claimed that Adityanath violated the EC ban on campaigning. The Congress also accused the EC of bias for suspending an official after PM Modi’s chopper was checked in Odisha.
  • At an election rally in Karnataka, Modi asked if the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) vote bank was in Bagalkot or Balakot.
  • The West Bengal Congress chief said his party will not seek TMC’s support to form government after the elections.
  • Congress President Rahul Gandhi refused to give clarity on whether his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will contest the election from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. Varanasi is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s seat.