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BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur on Sunday told the Election Commission that she did not make any defamatory comments against former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare. The poll panel had issued a notice to Thakur last week for saying that she cursed Karkare leading to his death in the 26/11 attacks. She added that her comment was taken out of context.
The BJP on Sunday announced Shankar Lalwani its candidate from Indore, Madhya Pradesh. It used to be Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s seat. Lalwani is the chairperson of the Indore Development Authority.
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi said party President Rahul Gandhi will decide if she will contest against Narendra Modi in Varanasi.
Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo on Sunday recommended re-polling in 10 booths across the state. Both parliamentary elections and Assembly bye-polls will be held again in Pappireddi in the Dharmapuri Parliamentary constituency, Panrutti in Cuddalore Lok Sabha seat, and Poonamallee in Tiruvallur.
9.14 pm: Here are the top updates of the day:
- West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the Election Commission’s special observers in West Bengal of helping the BJP, and insulting the people of the state. At election rallies in Nadia district, she alleged that the BJP was running a parallel government in the state.
- The chief electoral officer of Tamil Nadu recommended re-polling in 10 booths across the state. Both parliamentary elections and bye-polls will be held again in Pappireddi in the Dharmapuri Parliamentary constituency, Panrutti in Cuddalore Lok Sabha seat, and Poonamallee in Tiruvallur.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday claimed that Pakistan sent back Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman after his warning to Islamabad. He was addressing a rally in Gujarat’s Patan.
- Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Sunday said the voters in Uttar Pradesh who had helped Narendra Modi become the prime minister are ready to remove him from the post. She accused the prime minster of cheating people with false promises.
- The Election Commission has issued a notice to Bharatiya Janata Party leader Pragya Singh Thakur for her remark expressing “extreme pride” at her role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992, reports said.
- Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath told PTI that the Congress is unlikely to win a majority in the Lok Sabha polls and it will need help from allies to form a government at the Centre in New Delhi, PTI reported.
8.52 pm: BJP leader Baijayant Panda tells ANI that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik “sometimes cries like a schoolboy, sometimes he says I am complaining about his health, sometimes he says I’m coveting his chair”.
In an interview to the news agency, Patnaik accused Panda’s companies of financial misdealings and said the firms have a shady reputation. “I am disappointed that Naveen has reduced himself to this state of making wild unsubstantiated and personal allegations,” the BJP leader adds.
8.45 pm: At a rally in West Bengal’s Nadia district in the afternoon, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the Election Commission’s special observers of helping the BJP and alleged that they had abused and insulted the people of the state.
8.29 pm: Election to the Patkura Assembly constituency in Odisha adjourned after the death of BJD candidate Bed Prakash Agarwalla. It was scheduled to be held on April 29.
8.18 pm: A co-accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts denounces Pragya Singh Thakur’s comments against former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, reports PTI. “Making such remarks against bravehearts is sheer ingratitude towards their supreme sacrifices,” says Sameer Kulkarni. He, however, adds that he will still campaign for Thakur, who is BJP’s Bhopal candidate, to defeat Congress’ Digvijaya Singh.
8.11 pm: Congress leader Salman Khurshid says SP-BSP-RLD alliance will ultimately join hands with the Congress. In an interview with PTI, Khurshid, who has been the chief of Congress’ UP unit twice, he says: “The UP gathbandhan parties have said they want to remove the BJP and for that it is not rocket science they have to be with the Congress.”
8.05 pm: The Congress releases a report on national security by a task force headed by Lieutenant General (retd) DS Hooda. The party said national security was very important but not the one dominating the poll narrative.
“The number one issue remains unemployment,” says P Chidambaram. “The number two issue is farm distress and the number three issue is security of various sections of the people, women, Dalits, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, forest dwellers, journalists, academicians, NGOs.”
8 pm: The BJP releases list of candidates for Delhi, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The saffron party fields Union ministers Hardeep Singh Puri and Harsh Vardhan from Amritsar and Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha seats. The party nominates Shankar Lalwani from Indore which used to be Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s seat.
7.58 pm: Congress’ leader Digvijaya Singh releases a vision document for Bhopal from where he is contesting the Lok Sabha elections, reports PTI. Singh says Narendra Modi himself did not have a clear idea about the government’s flagship ‘Smart Cities Mission’. The mission was to develop 100 smart cities including Bhopal. “The definition of a smart city is not clear to Narendra Modi himself,” he says. “What is a smart city? The greenery of Bhopal was destroyed for developing it as a smart city.”
7.19 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleges that the Election Commission’s special observers are abusing and insulting the people of the state, reports PTI. “The BJP is trying to run a parallel govt in the state,” she says.
Her comments come a day after special poll observer Ajay V Nayak claimed that the election scenario in West Bengal was similar to the situation in Bihar over 15 years ago. Nayak is a former chief electoral officer of Bihar.
6.46 pm: The Mumbai Police have filed a case against Congress’ Mumbai South Lok Sabha candidate Milind Deora on the Election Commission’s direction for violating the model code of conduct, PTI reports. On April 4, at an election rally in the city’s Zaveri Bazar area, Deora had urged the Jain community not to vote for the Shiv Sena as it had hurt its religious sentiments earlier.
6.18 pm: At an election rally in Rajasthan’s Barmer, Narendra Modi says India does not get scared of Pakistan’s threats anymore, reports ANI. “Every other day they used to say ‘We have nuclear button, we have nuclear button’,” the prime minister adds. “What do we have then? Have we kept it for Diwali?”
5.51 pm: Mohammed Mohsin, who was suspended after a flying squad team inspected Narendra Modi’s helicopter in Odisha, has been attached with the office of Karnataka chief election officer, reports News18. Mohsin was the general observer of the Sambalpur parliamentary constituency.
5.49 pm: BJP leader Mukul Roy writes to the chief election commissioner to demand that TMC’s registration be cancelled, reports News18. He alleges that after Bangladeshi actor, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will campaign for Mamata Banerjee’s party.
5.44 pm: Union minister Smriti Irani asks Amethi voters to bid farewell to their “missing MP” Rahul Gandhi. Addressing an election meeting in Dharai, she promises Amethi voters sugar at Rs 13 per kg if the BJP comes to power.
5.31 pm: Campaigning for the third phase of Lok Sabha elections comes to an end. As many as 115 constituencies will vote on April 23.
4.58 pm: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath says the Congress is unlikely to win a majority in the Lok Sabha polls and will need help from allies to form the government at the Centre. The Congress leader tells PTI that his party would fare “very, very well” and that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party would not be able to stake claim to form the government with or without an alliance.
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4.30 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav accuses the Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government of failing to fulfil its duties, reports PTI. He says the state government collects road toll but does not ensure safety and security to commuters. Yadav’s comments come after seven passengers were killed in an accident near Mainpuri on Agra-Lucknow Expressway.
4.16 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati says the voters in Uttar Pradesh who had helped Narendra Modi become the prime minister are ready to remove him from the post. She accuses the prime minster of cheating people with false promises.
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4.15 pm: Addressing a rally in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says people know that he can never let the nation down. “The country has faith that Modi can tolerate attacks on himself and can risk his political future but cannot let the country down,” he says. He asks the voters if they want a stronger or a helpless India.
3.56 pm: Asked if she will contest the elections against Narendra Modi in Varanasi, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi says the decision lies with party President Rahul Gandhi, reports ANI.
2.48 pm: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra meets Late VV Vasantha Kumar’s family members in Wayanad. Kumar had lost his life in the Pulwama attack on February 14.
2.20 pm: Tamil Nadu Chief Election Officer Satyabrata Sahoo recommends re-polling in 10 booths across the state, reports Times Now. Of these, eight are in Dharmapuri district and one each in Cuddalore and Tiruvallur.
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1.15 pm: BJP President Amit Shah holds a roadshow in Ahmedabad.
12.31 pm: Aam Aadmi Party declares candidates for three seats in Haryana, ANI reports. Naveen Jaihind will contest from Faridabad, Prithviraj from Ambala and Krishan Kumar Agarwal from Karnal.
11.59 am: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel says Pragya Singh Thakur “behaves like a criminal habitually”.
11.30 am: Pragya Singh Thakur tells TV9 Bharatvarsh that those who had gone to demolish the Babri mosque had eliminated a “disgrace to the nation”. “I have extreme pride that God gave me this opportunity and strength that I was able to do this work,” she tells the news channel. “We will build Ram temple there itself.”
Earlier on Saturday, the BJP’s Bhopal candidate claimed that she climbed atop Babri Masjid in 1992 and helped demolish it.
10.47 am: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati says workers of the Samajwadi Party should learn to listen attentively from her party workers. Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party are in alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha elections.
“The sloganeering and shouting you [Samajwadi Party workers] do in the middle of a speech, I think you should learn a little from the BSP people how they listen carefully to what I say,” she says, according to ANI. “The Samajwadi Party people need to learn a lot.”
10.45 am: Supporters of Senior Delhi Congress leader Raj Kumar Chauhan protest outside party president Rahul Gandhi’s residence alleging that Chauhan is being denied a Lok Sabha ticket, ANI reports.
10.20 am: The Election Commission has reportedly issued a notice to Pragya Singh Thakur for her comments supporting the demolition of Babri Masjid.
10.15 am: BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur has claimed that she climbed atop Babri Masjid in 1992 and helped demolish it. In an interview with AajTak, Thakur says she does not regret demolishing the structure in Ayodhya.
“Why would we regret the demolition of the Babri Masjid? We are, in fact, proud of it,” she has said. “There were some waste products of the Ram temple and we removed it. This has awakened the self-respect of our country and we will construct a grand Ram temple.”
10 am: In an interview with Hindustan, a sister publication of the Hindustan Times, Congress President Rahul Gandhi says the Congress’ minimum income guarantee scheme, NYAY, will remonetise the Indian economy by boosting demand and manufacturing. “The way petrol is provided to an engine, the NYAY scheme will jumpstart the entire economy,” says Gandhi. “With this, the poor will get money, demand will increase, manufacturing will increase and the youth will get employment.”
9.15 am: The Congress party will announce the name for seven Lok Sabha seats in the national Capital in a couple of days, party’s Delhi unit chief Sheila Dikshit has said. About her own nomination from Chandni Chowk, she says, “Let the party decide.”
9.10 am: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar has said that he is “terribly afraid” as to what Prime Minister Narendra Modi would do next. “Modi says he came into politics holding my finger,” Pawar said at a rally in Daund in Baramati from where his daughter Supriya Sule is seeking re-election. “But now I am terribly afraid, because what this man will do, nobody knows.”
In 2016, at a function in Pune while sharing the dais with Pawar, Modi had said that the NCP chief had handheld him when he entered politics.
9 am: Bye-elections in five Assembly constitutencies of West Bengal will be held on May 19, the Election Commission has said. The votes will be counted on May 23, PTI reports.
Darjeeling, Islampur, Kandi, Habibpur (Scheduled Tribe) and Bhatpara seats fell vacant after the sitting MLAs resigned following their nomination to contest the Lok Sabha elections.
8.50 am: Union minister Piyush Goyal reacts to Priyanka Gandhi’s remark that there has been no weaker prime minister than Narendra Modi: “That’s the joke of the day. It’s PM Modi’s courage that to destroy enemies from the very roots, we crossed Line of Control and attacked them [terrorists] in Balakot. Because of this, Pakistan is afraid today and entire world is with India.”
8.45 am: Here are the top updates from Saturday:
- BJP’s Buduan candidate Sanghamitra Maurya asked her supporters to cast proxy votes for people who may not be able to cast their ballot, but do it stealthily.
- Priyanka Gandhi attacked Narendra Modi in Kerala, saying that a true nationalist does not divide the country but unites it. “If a leader is a true nationalist, he does not spread hate, he spreads love,” she said.
- Amethi’s returning officer put on hold the scrutiny of Rahul Gandhi’s nomination papers till April 22, after an independent candidate alleged that the Congress chief had declared himself a British citizen.
- The Election Commission ordered Eros Now to stop the telecast of a web series on Narendra Modi, citing its April 10 order banning the exhibition of biopics, biographies or hagiographies of politicians and candidates till the Model Code of Conduct is in force.
- Modi said in West Bengal’s Buniadpur that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was rattled by the high turnout in the first two phases of polls in the state. As a result, he claimed, Trinamool Congress “goons” killed one more BJP worker in Purulia.
- The Aam Aadmi Party accused the Congress of wasting time on talks of an alliance in Delhi, Haryana and Chandigarh. “The Congress was doing timepass, it had no intention of having an alliance in Haryana,” Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia said.