10 pm: Here are the day’s top stories:

  • The Election Commission has reiterated its decision to ban the release of a biopic about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and told the Supreme Court that public screening of the movie during the ongoing elections will “tilt the electoral balance”.
  • The special National Investigation Agency court rejected a plea seeking to bar Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Malegaon blasts accused Pragya Singh Thakur from contesting the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. The court said it is the job of electoral officers to decide.
  • Twitter said it is launching a new feature that will allow users to easily report content that provides misleading information on voting.
  • Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government of forming policies to benefit top industrialists instead of the masses. She urged those gathered at a party rally in Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh to vote out “the politics of divisiveness and negativity”.

8.59 pm: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur claims Rahul Gandhi is misusing the Supreme Court’s observations on the Rafale deal for “political propaganda”, PTI reports.

8.50 pm: BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan says that just like Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath did not allow his chopper to land in Umreth, ANI reports. He warns the collector of Chhindwara district that the BJP will come back to power one day. “What will happen to you then?” he asks. Chouhan was allegedly denied permission to land in Umreth after 5 pm.

8.40 pm: Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi attacks Modi for his “ghungroo” remark, News18 reports. “He has been the chief minister for the longest time and has been the PM for the last five years,” he says. “His cheap statements are in no way in accordance with his position as the head of the country. He is a politician 24/7. I am waiting for him to transition into a statesman. Forget the Congress, he should apologise to the entire nation.”

7.46 pm: The Election Commission says in its submission to the Supreme Court that the biopic on Narendra Modi is a hagiography, which treats its subject with “undue reverence”, PTI reports. The poll panel said PM Narendra Modi “produces a political environment where an individual acquired cult status” which will tilt the electoral balance. The panel had stayed the release of the film till the end of the Lok Sabha elections.

7.40 pm: The Aam Aadmi Party says it will challenge in the Delhi High Court the returning officer’s decision to “wrongfully” accept the nomination papers of BJP’s South Delhi candidate Raghav Chadha, News18 reports.

7.30 pm: Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir says only his party can safeguard the special status granted to the state under the Indian Constitution, PTI reports. He says Congress will do everything to defeat the communal agenda of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP.

7.14 pm: Former BJP MP Udit Raj, who joined the Congress, claims at a joint press conference with Randeep Surjewala that the saffron party denied him a ticket despite its internal survey showing that his seat was the most popular. “This was because on April 2, 2018, when the Dalit community held a Bharat bandh, I supported them,” he says. “My mistake was that I was not deaf and dumb there. If I had been deaf and dumb, they would have made him prime minister too.”

7.10 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav labels Narendra Modi a “prachar mantri” (publicity minister) at a rally in Hardoi, PTI reports. “The nation needs a ‘pradhan mantri’ [prime minister] and not a ‘prachar mantri’ [publicity minister],” he says.

6.55 pm: ”We will cut off the arm of anybody who raises a finger against Modi, and give it to them in their hand,” Himachal Pradesh BJP chief Satpal Satti says according to ANI.

6.30 pm: Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar says that the Opposition complains about faulty EVMs when they are losing the polls, but remains silent when they win, PTI reports. “How come EVMs were good when Opposition won election in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh?” he asks at a press conference in Jaipur.

Javadekar claims the Opposition is nervous after the first three phases of the elections. “There is a statistics that many states have witnessed 5% less voting than in 2014,” he says. “This is our ground report that opposition parties have lost the votes because of being leaderless, bankruptcy of ideas and negative politics.”

5.51 pm: Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala claims that Modi took revenge against all those BJP workers who warned him about atrocities being committed against Dalits. “From Gujarat’s Una to Rohith Vemula, the rights of the poor are being attacked,” he adds. “

5.38 pm: The returning officer has accepted cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir’s nomination for the East Delhi parliamentary constituency, ANI reports. AAP and Congress had objected to discrepancies in his nomination papers.

5.33 pm: “Don’t give me speeches,” Gandhi says. “Give me a number [for the amount of money to be deposited in bank accounts under the NYAY scheme]. P Chidambaram came to me and said, 72,000. We will put Rs 72,000 in 5 crore bank accounts.”

Gandhi claims economists told him that Modi waived loans of 15 top industrialists worth Rs 5,55,000 crore in five years. “This chowkidar has given away your money to the thieves,” he adds.

5.28 pm: “The chowkidar has betrayed the people of India,” Rahul Gandhi says at Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao. He wonders why Narendra Modi did not provide the 2 crore jobs he promised to the youth of Unnao.

5.18 pm: “It seems everyone wants to be prime minister,” Narendra Modi says in Birbhum, The Indian Express reports. “Any party fighting from 20 to 25 seats wants to claim the prime minister’s post.”

5.10 pm: Pragya Singh Thakur, commenting on the NIA court’s rejection of a plea to bar her from contesting polls, claims Congress has been conspiring continuously, ANI reports. “But we will win because truth and ‘dharma’ always wins,” she adds.

4.50 pm: Modi claims in Birbhum that Banerjee is using rented goons to win the polls, BJP tweets. However, he adds that this is impossible now because the people of West Bengal have turned against the chief minister along with the BJP.

4.36 pm: Mamata Banerjee, at a rally in Serampore, accuses Modi of converting huge amounts of black money into white through demonetisation and spending it to purchase votes, PTI reports. However, she tells the prime minister that he can never buy the voters of West Bengal. “You are destined to be dethroned after the elections,” she adds.

4.28 pm: Narendra Modi says India’s might was being acknowledged globally because of his numerous visits to foreign countries, PTI reports. “I read somewhere that Didi [Mamata Banerjee] has said this chaiwala was busy making foreign trips all these five years, but today India’s might is being acknowledged everywhere because of these visits,” the prime minister says in Birbhum.

4.21 pm: A re-election will be held at polling station 181 in Cooch Behar, West Bengal on April 29, following allegations that voters were stopped from casting their ballot, ANI reports.

4.08 pm: Amit Shah will hold a rally in Jalore on Friday, and a roadshow in Jodhpur the same evening, Rajasthan BJP spokesperson Vinay Katiyar says according to PTI.

4.05 pm: Rahul Gandhi will hold rallies in Ajmer, Jalore and Kota in Rajasthan on Thursday, a Congress spokesperson says according to PTI. Voting will be held in 13 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state on April 29.

3.56 pm: The Nationalist Congress Party claims that Narendra Modi’s roadshow in Gandhinagar after casting his vote was a “farewell procession” after five years of unsuccessful government, PTI reports.

3.44 pm: Amit Shah claims that Rahul Gandhi will not be able to repeal AFSPA in his lifetime, ANI reports. “After you, even if another Gandhi comes, he will not be able to repeal it.”

3.36 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh says the Congress high command has decided that ministers in the state who do not succeed in ensuring a victory for the party will be dropped from the cabinet, ANI reports.

3.25 pm: The Samajwadi Party had an alliance with the Congress, but their ego is too big, PTI quotes Akhilesh Yadav as saying.

3.10 pm: Former Chief Election Commissioner TS Krishnamurthy says he sees no end to complaints against EVMs as those who lose elections would continue to “grumble”. “I think they [those complaining against EVMs] are more interested in paper ballot, which will give more opportunity for more frauds; but if this is what they want, what can we do?” Krishnamurthy tells PTI.

Earlier on Wednesday, 21 Opposition parties filed a review petition in the Supreme Court asking it to direct the Election Commission to cross-check at least 50% votes using Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail slips.

“Those who are not winning, they will grumble; those who are winning they will keep quiet; when they [those who won earlier] lose, they will grumble. This game goes on, there is no end to it,” the former poll official says.

3 pm: Congress candidate from Kaiserganj Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh, Vinay Kumar Pandey, has been allegedly booked for making derogatory remarks against Chief Minister Adityanath and the Nath sect, PTI reports.

2.45 pm: A special NIA court rejects a plea seeking to bar BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur from contesting the elections. Thakur is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts. “In the ongoing elections, the court does not have any legal powers to prohibit anyone from contesting the polls,” the court says, according to ANI. “It is the job of electoral officers to decide.”

Read more here: ‘Electoral officers will decide’: NIA court rejects plea to bar Pragya Thakur from contesting polls

2.28 pm: “Like the BJP, the Congress too believes in threatening political opponents,” Yadav says in Kanpur.

2.16 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav claims that the BJP is using the divide and rule policy of the British to grab power, PTI reports. Yadav says people voted for “chaiwala” and tasted tea. “As you know the taste of tea now, will you vote for him again?” he asks.

1.55 pm: Twenty-one Opposition parties have filed a review petition before the Supreme Court asking the Election Commission to verify at least 50% of the EVMs using VVPAT, reports ANI.

Read more here: Opposition parties move SC again seeking order to verify 50% votes using VVPAT slips

1.35 pm: Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala says Modi has been vindictive against anyone in his party who stood up for Dalits.

1.30 pm: Udit Raj, who earlier in the day quit the BJP to join the Congress, says the BJP’s mindset is “anti-Dalit”.

He officially joined the Congress on Wednesday in the presence of senior Congress leaders, including party’s Delhi unit chief Sheila Dikshit and party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.

1.12 pm: Priyanka Gandhi asks people to help remove politics of divisiveness and negativity and save the country for the future generations. “Change politics, not only of your area or for your needs, but for your future generations and to save the country, as the country is in danger,” Priyanka Gandhi says, according to PTI. “Remove the politics of divisiveness and negativity, and usher in a politics, which speaks about you, your grievances and makes efforts to redress them.”

Fatehpur goes to vote on May 6 in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections.

1.10 pm: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addresses rally in Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh. “50% of Modi’s campaign speeches are devoted to blaming Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi. But he never says what he did in the last five years,” she says.

12.59 pm: “Rahul Gandhi asks us [the NDA] what our government has done for Bihar,” Amit Shah says. “But we have been in power only for five years. What did the Congress government do for Bihar being in power for 55 years?”

12.57 pm: Amit Shah addresses a rally in Munger district of Bihar. He says people across the country have resolved to make Modi prime minister again.

12.50 pm: Fifty turmeric farmers from Nizamabad in Telangana have said that they will contest the election against Narendra Modi in Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, IANS reports. The group says their intention is to highlight the plight of farmers. The group of farmers plan to file their nominations on April 28 and the polling in Varanasi is scheduled for May 19, the last phase of Lok Sabha elections.

This comes after 178 farmers contested from Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat on April 11 for a higher price for their turmeric crops.

12.35 pm: Modi says the challenge before India and the world is terrorism. “You must have seen a few days ago how terrorists attacked churches and other places in Sri Lanka on the holy day of Easter,” he says. “Before 2014, India was also going through a similar phase.”

He further claims: “Pakistan used to send terrorists who would come here and attack and the Congress government would cry over it...can you ever challenge terrorism by crying and being scared?”

12.28 pm: It is the National Democratic Alliance’s efforts that the number of Maoist-affected areas in Jharkhand have come down, says the prime minister.

12.25 pm: Addressing a rally in Lohardaga in Jharkhand, Narendra Modi says Opposition parties have accepted defeat in the elections and that is why they have started claiming glitches in the Electronic Voting Machines. “The Opposition is making such claims because people are not wasting their votes on them,” Modi says. “People are voting for the country’s development, to strengthen the nation.”

12.12 pm: Biju Janata Dal’s candidate for Barabatti-Cuttack Assembly seat Debashish Samantray receives a showcause notice by the returning officer of Cuttack district for allegedly trying to influence voters by posting an appeal on social media, PTI reports. His post reportedly came a day after campaigning for the third phase of Lok Sabha elections and the Assembly elections in Odisha ended.

The election official asks Samantray to explain within 48 hours on Tuesday as to why his message should not be treated as a violation of Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

11.45 am: Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitharam Yechury says there is no place for his party in the Opposition’s grand alliance in Bihar, ANI reports.

“It is very regrettable that we have not found a place in ‘mahagathbandhan’,” Yechury says. “The left and the Rashtriya Janata Dal have a very old relationship, both have fought together for secularism. At Begusarai we [CPI-M] are contesting on our own and we are supporting the ‘mahagathbandhan’ at the other places because we have to defeat the BJP.”

The Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha and Mukesh Sahni’s Vikassheel Insaan Party are part of the “grand alliance” in Bihar.

11.39 am: BJP MP Udit Raj joins Congress party in the presence of Congress President Rahul Gandhi. On Tuesday, the BJP had replaced Raj with singer Hans Raj Hans as its Lok Sabha polls contender from North West Delhi.

Read more here:

BJP MP Udit Raj joins Congress a day after being denied his North West Delhi seat

11.24 am: Congress leader P Chidamabaram says he is tired of listening to the prime minister “beat his own trumpet on what he did to Pakistan”.

“Before the campaign ends, will the PM speak on the top issues concerning the people?” Chidamabaram tweets. “The top issues are (1) jobs, (2) farmers’ distress and debt and (3) security of all sections of the people. Why is PM silent on these issues? People want to hear the PM speak on demonetisation, messed up Goods and Services Tax and the plight of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. People also want to hear the PM speak on hate speeches, especially by leaders of his own party.”

11.17 am: Election Commission records highest concentration of zero votes in former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s Bijbehara constituency in Anantnag on Tuesday, PTI reports. Of the 65 booths in Anantnag where zero votes were cast, 40 were located in Bijbehara. The constituency was one of six where polling was conducted as part of the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

10.52 am: Congress leader Anand Sharma compares Prime Minister Narendra Modi to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, ANI reports. “Recently Prime Minister Modi said that India was ready with 18 nuclear missiles to be used,” Sharma is quoted as saying. “No President or Prime Minister of any nation would disclose such sensitive matters but Modi ji has been giving such irresponsible statements for so long. There is only one nation and leader in the world – Kim Jong-un who is known for such statements on nuclear weapons and it seems PM Modi is behaving like him.”

Sharma says it will be “disgraceful and unfortunate” if India’s prime minister starts comparing himself to “such countries”.

10.48 am: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray says the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah reign will end soon, NDTV reports. “Even though [Shiv Sena chief] Uddhav Thackeray is close to [industrialist] Mukesh Ambani, he has endorsed [Congress leader] Milind Deora,” says Raj Thackeray about his cousin and Bharatiya Janata Party ally in Maharashtra. “This is a message. Modi and Amit Shah’s rule is ending soon.”

10.30 am: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders on Tuesday defended the party’s decision to field 2008 Malegaon blasts accused Pragya Sigh Thakur from Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency. They said it was an answer to the Congress’ “Hindu terror” conspiracy.

BJP President Amit Shah said fielding Thakur was “absolutely [the] right decision” and that “a Hindu can never be a terrorist”. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the move was a reply to those who insulted Hindus, while former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the BJP was proud of Thakur.

Read more here:

‘Absolutely right decision’: BJP veterans defend fielding Pragya Singh Thakur from Bhopal

10.05 am: Here are the final turnout figures for the third phase of voting:

  • Overall (estimated): 67.71%
  • Assam (4 seats): 84.11%
  • Bihar (5 seats): 60%
  • Goa (2 seats): 74.72%
  • Gujarat (26 seats): 63.87%
  • Jammu and Kashmir (1 seat): 12.86%
  • Karnataka (14 seats): 68.03%
  • Kerala (20 seats): 76.87%
  • Maharashtra (14 seats): 61.96%
  • Odisha (6 seats): 68.8%
  • Tripura (1 seat): 82.03%
  • Uttar Pradesh (10 seats): 61.46%
  • West Bengal (5 seats): 81.36%
  • Chhattisgarh (7 seats): 68.59%
  • Dadra and Nagar Haveli: 79.59%
  • Daman and Diu: 71.82%

9.48 am: Elections will be held again today at a polling stations in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Re-polling has been ordered in five polling stations in Karimganj and Autonomous District constituencies in Assam. In Arunachal Pradesh, 18 polling stations in the Kurung Kumey and Kra Daadi districts will go to the polls while elections will be held in 12 polling stations in the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha constituency.

9.39 am: NCP chief Sharad Pawar says that by criticising his family repeatedly Prime Minister Narendra Modi has displayed his desperation. “The prime minister is confused,” The Hindu quotes Pawar as saying. “The prime minister is an institution of which one has to maintain the dignity. His campaign started with Hindutva. In 2014, it was development, and the people of the country thought, ‘Why not give an opportunity to him’ and people supported him.”

9.30 am: In an interview to Tiranga TV, former Vice President Hamid Ansari says people have the right to ask what was achieved in the Balakot air strikes and the government should answer the questions. The Narendra Modi government has a mixed record despite beginning its term on a high note, he adds.


9.19 am: Renowned psephologist and Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav has criticised the Election Commission’s alleged reluctance to take action against Narendra Modi despite the prime minister’s repeated mention of Balakot air strikes at election rallies, reports PTI. Yadav made the comments at an election rally in Begusarai, Bihar, on Tuesday that was organised in support of Communist Party of India candidate Kanhaiya Kumar.

9.09 am: Union minister Vijay Sampla, who has been denied ticket from Hoshiarpur in Punjab, has accused the BJP of committing “cow slaughter”. Sampla tweeted this on Tuesday. He also asked the party why he had been denied the ticket despite his “clean credentials”.

8.25 am: The Election Commission has sought a report from election authorities in Gujarat about alleged Model Code of Conduct violation by Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. The Congress had earlier filed a complaint with the poll body.

Read more

EC orders inquiry after Congress accuses Narendra Modi of violating poll code

8.21 am: The Election Commission has ordered re-polling in nine booths in Odisha where voting was disrupted during the second phase, reports PTI. According to state Chief Electoral Officer Surendra Kumar, the elections will be held on April 25.

8.15 am: BJP chief Amit Shah is confident that his party will win the elections with a huge margin and form a government with full majority, reports PTI. He inaugurated a media centre of the party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election office in Modi’s constituency Varanasi on Tuesday.

8.12 am: The Election Commission has reportedly initiated steps to take down trailers of a biopic on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from at least three websites, reports PTI.

Read more

‘Baghini: Bengal Tigress’ is inspired by Mamata Banerjee but is not a biopic, filmmakers say

8.10 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi has called his BJP counterpart Amit Shah a murder accused. He made the remarks on Tuesday at election rallies on Tuesday, prompting Shah to question his knowledge of legal matters. In 2014, a special court had discharged Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter killing cases, ruling that there was “no case” against him.

8 am: Here are the top stories from Tuesday:

  • Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a video purportedly showed drinking water being used to clean roads in Bundelkhand to welcome him.  
  • One hundred and seventeen Lok Sabha seats across 13 states and two Union Territories went to polls in the third phase of the General Elections. The overall turnout was estimated to be 66.04% at 10 pm.
  • man was killed in clashes between Congress and Trinamool Congress workers in West Bengal even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed central security forces were asking voters to support the Bharatiya Janata Party.  
  •  In Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, voters complained about faulty EVMs. In Thiruvananthapuram, police arrested a voter for allegedly falsely claiming that a VVPAT machine had wrongly registered his vote. There were also reports of voting machine glitches from Goa.  
  • Hindi film actor Sunny Deol joined the BJP on Tuesday. He was named the party’s Gurdaspur candidate later in the day.  
  • The Supreme Court issued a notice to Rahul Gandhi on the contempt plea regarding ‘Chowkidar’ remark. Meanwhile, a special court for MPs will hear a plea against Rahul Gandhi’s ‘seditious remarks’ about Modi.