9 pm: Here are the day’s top updates:

  • Trinamool will request EC to look into Narendra Modi’s poll expenditure, Mamata Banerjee said on Sunday. On Saturday, Congress’ Chidambaram had also accused the EC of not looking into PM Modi’s ‘unprecedented rally expenses’.
  • Sharad Pawar said Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu and Mayawati are the top contenders for the PM’s post. The Nationalist Congress Party chief also said Congress President Rahul Gandhi had himself said he was not in the race to be prime minister.
  • The Trinamool Congress has accused the BJP of using ‘non-Indian wrestler’ Khali to misguide voters and sought the EC’s intervention.
  • Opposition parties had complained to the EC that the BJP’s name was displayed under its symbol on electronic voting machines during a mock drill in West Bengal’s Barrackpore constituency.
  • Priyanka Gandhi said the Congress decided to not field her in Varanasi. Congress leader Sam Pitroda had, however, on Friday claimed that it was Priyanka Gandhi’s decision not to contest the polls against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • AAP leader Atishi criticised BJP rival Gautam Gambhir for saying she has no vision for East Delhi. She asked the former cricketer what he had done for the constituency to deserve the saffron party’s ticket.
  • Had Pragya Thakur cursed Masood Azhar, we would not have needed surgical strikes, Digvijaya Singh said, in reference to Thakur’s comment that her curse led to the death of former Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare in the 2008 Mumbai blasts. Hemant Karkare’s daughter, meanwhile, said she won’t dignify Pragya Thakur’s remarks.

8.53 pm: Seventy-two Lok Sabha seats across nine states will vote on Monday in the fourth phase of the General Elections.

8.51 pm: Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan announces candidates for the bye-elections to four Assembly seats in Tamil Nadu on May 19, PTI reports. P Shaktivel, G Mayilsami, S Mohanraj and M Gandhi will contest from the Thiruprankundram, Sulur, Aravakurichi and Ottapidaram Assembly seats, he says.

7.35 pm: Banerjee adds that the BJP is using thousands of rupees to lure people to its rallies as well as to buy votes. She claims that the prime minister “never respected his mother or his wife” throughout his life. “You shy away from giving your wife her due respect, what respect will you give to the people?” she asks.

“This election is not [a test] for Mamata Banerjee, but for you [Modi],” she adds. “It is time for you to answer what you have done in five years.”

Read more here:

Trinamool will request EC to look into Narendra Modi’s poll expenditure, says Mamata Banerjee

7.27 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accuses the Bharatiya Janata Party of doling out money to buy votes, PTI reports. “We will ask the Election Commission to keep an account of the spendings in the prime minister’s public meetings,” the Trinamool Congress chief says at a rally in East Midnapore. “If the EC can seek details of expenditure from others, why not from him?”

7.20 pm: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley alleges the prime minister never indulged in caste politics. “How is the Prime Minister’s caste relevant,” Jaitley asks in a tweet. “He has never done caste politics. He has only done developmental politics. He is inspired by nationalism.”

“Those who are deceiving the poor in the name of caste will not succeed,” Jaitely adds. “They have only amassed wealth in the name of caste politics. The Prime Minister’s assets are not even 0.01% when compared to the First Family of the BSP or the RJD.”

7.04 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Bollywood actor and BJP’s candidate from the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat in Punjab, Sunny Deol.

6.45 pm: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra questions the nationalism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindustan Times reports. “What type of nationalism is there in ‘main hoon Modi’ (I am Modi),” she asks in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. “What is the meaning of nationalism? It means patriotism and love for the country. Who is the country? Its people and their love. If you have affinity only towards yourself, then what type of nationalism is this?”

6.35 pm: Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav alleges that the prime minister is an upper caste by birth but his papers say that he is from a backward class.

“I had said on April 20 that Narendra Modi, after portraying himself as fake OBC, will call himself a person belonging to extremely backward caste. He did so yesterday [in Kannauj in UP],” Yadav said on Twitter. “The fact is that he is an upper caste by birth and backward on papers. He [PM] will say so many things just to fetch votes.”

5.30 pm: The BJP releases the names of its candidates for bye-elections to Legislative Assemblies of Panaji in Goa, and Chincholi and Kundgoi in Karnataka. The bye-eelctions are scheduled for May 19, the last phase of the ongoing election process.

Former MLA Siddharth Kunkolienkar has been nominated from Panaji, putting to rest speculation that former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s son Utpal Parrikar will contest from the seat.

4.53 pm: Union minister Smriti Irani, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, has accused the Congress president of lying about why a mega food park that the Congress-led UPA government had allotted for the constituency has not been built yet.

“The food park, which Rahul Gandhi has been talking about, the decision to not supply gas to it was given in writing by the then government headed by Manmohan Singh,” PTI quotes Irani as saying. “The letter has been presented before the country long time ago. Rahul is misguiding people by telling lies.” Gandhi has, however, blamed the Narendra Modi government.

4.47 pm: AAP’s East Delhi candidate Atishi Marlena has criticised her BJP rival Gautam Gambhir for saying that she has no vision. Gambhir made the remark while responding to questions about Marlena’s complaint against him for allegedly possessing two voter identification cards.

“In four-and-a-half years, AAP government built two new schools of excellence, two talent schools, two university campuses, 25 mohalla clinics in East Delhi and 32 are under construction,” she tweets. “Hundreds of new jobs. Tell us about your vision too.”

4.40 pm: Congress’s Bhopal candidate Digvijaya Singh says he is a supporter of CPI leader Kanhaiya Kumar, who is contesting from Begusarai in Bihar. “I had told party leaders that the RJD has made a big mistake by not leaving the seat for the CPI,” ANI quotes Singh as saying. “I am happy that Kumar will be in Bhopal on May 8 and 9 for campaigning.” The Congress is in alliance with the RJD in Bihar.

4.08 pm: The BJD has written to the state’s chief electoral officer, urging the poll body to immediately stop the BJP’s alleged campaign in the state through voice calls during the silence period before voting, reports ANI. The ruling party urges the officer to take action against BJP leaders and the service provider circulating these calls. Six parliamentary seats and 42 Assembly seats go to the polls in the state on Monday.

4 pm: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi tells reporters in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh that her party and the rest of the Opposition are talking about development-related matters unlike Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Even today, I do not know his [PM Modi’s] caste,” The Indian Express quotes her as saying a day after Modi criticised the SP, the BSP and the Congress of “playing caste politics”.

3.47 pm: Congress candidate from East Delhi Arvinder Singh Lovely has said that the BJP’s Gautam Gambhir and the AAP’s Atishi Marlena consider the election to be a “political picnic”, PTI reports. He claims that his rivals do not have either connect with people or understanding about their hardships.

3.41 pm: BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya alleges that if the Mamata Banerjee goverment is not voted out the Islamic State terrorist organisation will gain a foothold in West Bengal. “It will become like Jammu and Kashmir,” ANI quotes him as saying. “It is because of her appeasement politics that people related to terror activities have made their base in the border states and ISIS threat is a proof of that.”

3.33 pm: The BJP has accused Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray of running a fake news campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reports The Hindu. According to the party, Thackeray is releasing videos and documents taken from unverified websites on social media to target Modi.

3.23 pm: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi’s statement on Sunday that party leaders had decided against her candidature from Varanasi, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s seat, contradicts her party colleague Sam Pitroda’s comments on the matter. Pitroda, who is the Indian Overseas Congress chief, had said on Friday it was Gandhi’s decision to not contest the election. Gandhi told reporters that she has to focus on the party’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh.

Read more

2019 Lok Sabha elections: Priyanka Gandhi says Congress chose not to field her in Varanasi

1.51 pm: P Chidambaram wonders if Narendra Modi considers people a “bunch of idiots” who have suffered memory loss. “Mr Narendra Modi is the first person who became PM later who campaigned wearing his caste on his sleeve,” Chidambaram tweets. “Now, he says he has no caste!”

“In 2014 and thereafter, he said repeatedly that he is proud that the people elected a chaiwala as PM,” the Congress leader adds. “Now he says, he never mentioned his origins as a chaiwala!”

1.47 pm: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani claims that Rahul Gandhi’s image is worse in 2019 than during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, PTI reports. “I feel pity for Rahul Gandhi seeing him being trolled excessively on social media over his immature behaviour,” Rupani says in Mumbai, where he is campaigning for Mumbai North East BJP candidate Manoj Kotak.

1.37 pm: The Uttarakhand BJP has asked two party MLAs who have been at loggerheads for a fortnight to stop attacking each other in public while the matter is being investigated, PTI reports. The two legislators in question are Khanpur BJP MLA Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion and the party’s Jhabreda legislator Desraj Karnawal.

“Convener of the committee Khajan Das has categorically told the MLAs not to issue any statements against each other anymore and do nothing to breach party discipline or land the party in an uncomfortable situation,” Uttarakhand BJP media chief Devendra Bhasin says.

1.22 pm: Coal miners in Raniganj-Asansol coal belt in West Bengal say they will vote None of the Above in the Lok Sabha elections, because they have lost their jobs due to curbs on illegal mining, PTI reports. After seizures began to curb illegal election funding, the mining mafia have stopped operations in the area.

BJP MP MP Babul Supriyo is pitted against Moon Moon Sen of the Trinamool Congress in the Asansol Lok Sabha constituency.

1 pm: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi says party leaders decided that she should not contest against Narendra Modi from Varanasi. “I consulted all Congress leaders in Uttar Pradesh,” Gandhi says. “Everyone and the party decided not to field me.”

Gandhi says she has to focus on 41 seats in Uttar Pradesh, and will be busy campaigning.

12.55 pm: Congress leader P Chidambaram accuses the Election Commission of not properly monitoring the electoral expenditure incurred at Narendra Modi’s rallies. “Unprecedented expenses for the prime minister’s rallies,” Chidambaram tells reporters in Mumbai. “About Rs 10 crore is spent on each rally. The Election Commission is failing the people of the country.”

12.48 pm: Madhya Pradesh BJP leader Fatima Siddique has said that the party’s decision to field Pragya Singh Thakur as its candidate from Bhopal has affected former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s image among Muslims, The Indian Express reports. “She should not campaign in Muslim-dominated areas,” Siddique says.

Siddique says many in BJP are against Thakur’s candidature but have kept silent. She says that if Thakur apologises for her comments on the Babri Masjid demolition and former Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, she may campaign for Thakur.

12.35 pm: AAP’s Chandini Chowk candidate Pankaj Gupta says this is an election between “bade naam” and “bade kaam” (big names and those who have done major work). “Harsh Vardhan was a very big name but what did they give his constituency, people have seen,” he says according to PTI. Gupta refuses to comment on Congress candidate JP Agarwal, saying he is not even in the competition.

12.19 pm: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi says unemployment, education and health are the major problems in this election, ANI reports. Gandhi, visiting Amethi, claims that the other parties distribute money, shoes and sarees in front of the media. “People of Amethi have never begged in front of anyone,” she adds.

12 pm: Union minister Harsh Vardhan wonders whether Delhi can be given full statehood under the rule of a chief minister like Arvind Kejriwal, who he describes as being of “dubious and questionable character”, PTI reports. Harsh Vardhan, a candidate for the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha constituency, claims Kejriwal has done nothing for the people of Delhi except “abusing Prime Minister [Narendra Modi]”.

11.48 pm: The Trinamool Congress asks the Election Commission of India to stop professional wrestler The Great Khali from campaigning for BJP candidate for Jadavpur, Anupam Hazra, ANI reports. The party says that Khali holds United States citizenship, and “a foreigner should not be allowed to influence the minds of Indian electors”.

11.32 am: BJP candidate for East Delhi Gautam Gambhir claims Aam Aadmi Party candidate Atishi Marlena has alleged that he has two voter IDs because she lacks a vision and did nothing for the city in the last four and a half years, ANI reports. “The Election Commission will decide this,” he says. “When you have a vision you don’t do negative politics.”

11 am: Former Union Minister Vinod Khanna’s wife Kavita says the BJP did not inform her that actor Sunny Deol would contest from her late husband’s seat. She claims she was promised the seat and that she has been approached by several other parties, but that she will continue to support the BJP.

Read more here: Vinod Khanna’s wife Kavita says BJP’s decision to field Sunny Deol from Gurdaspur left her abandoned

10.35 am: A group of over 50 farmers are in Varanasi to file their nominations for the Lok Sabha elections, Times Now reports. Varanasi is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s seat.

10.20 am: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar says that Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee and Chandrababu Naidu, and former Chief Minister Mayawati are top contenders for the prime minister’s post if their coalition wins the elections, The Times of India reports. “Narendra Modi was chief minister of Gujarat before taking over as the PM,” The newspaper quoted him as saying. “In my opinion, since the possibility of the NDA securing a clear majority is remote, Banerjee, Naidu and Mayawati are better options for the PM’s post.”

He denies reports that he said Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is not in the running for the position of prime minister, saying that Gandhi had himself said he was not a contender. “So any debate on that (point) has no relevance,” Pawar says.

10.15 am: The daughter of former Mumbai Anti-Terror Squad chief Hemant Karkare says she does not want to respond to BJP candidate Pragya Thakur’s remarks about her father, The Indian Express reports. “I do not want to dignify her or her statement,” she says. “I only want to talk about Hemant Karkare. He was a role model and his name should be taken with dignity.”

Thakur had claimed that Karkarde died after she had cursed him. Karkare was investigating the Malegaon blasts case, which Thakur in which Pragya Thakur was accused. She had later retracted the statement after facing much criticism.

8.44 am: Union Minister Uma Bharti claims Pragya Singh Thakur is a “great saint” and that Bharti should not be compared with her, ANI reports. “I am just an ordinary and foolish creature,” she adds. The BJP leader was asked if Thakur would take her place in politics.

8.38 am: Nationalist Congress Party leader Majid Memon claims that since Shatrughan Sinha was a BJP leader until recently, his remarks are the result of the saffron party’s teachings, ANI reports.

Sinha had invoked Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah along with Mahatma Gandhi at a rally in Bihar. “Jinnah made a big contribution to the freedom struggle, just because he was a Muslim you are offended and are calling Shatrughan Sinha anti-national,” Memon said.

8.35 am: Opposition parties have alleged that EVMs used during a mock drill in Barrackpore in West Bengal on Saturday showed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s name below its symbol. The Election Commission, however, has dismissed the complaint.

Read more here: Opposition parties tell EC ‘BJP’ displayed below party symbol on voting machines in Barrackpore

8.31 am: Congress candidate from Bhopal Digvijaya Singh has said that there would have been no need for the Indian Army to conduct surgical strikes inside Pakistan if BJP nominee Pragya Singh Thakur had cursed Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, instead of former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare.

Read more

Had Pragya Thakur cursed Masood Azhar, we would not have needed surgical strikes: Digvijaya Singh

8.27 am: Here are the top updates from Saturday:

  • A video of a police van being used for distributing food packets a BJP rally in Anantnag parliamentary constituency of Jammu and Kashmir has surfaced. The police have ordered an inquiry after the video was shared widely on social media.
  • Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha said that he had mistakenly referred to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad as Muhammad Ali Jinnah a day ago while talking about the Congress party’s contribution to India’s Independence.
  • Congress President Rahul Gandhi hit out at Narendra Modi for his constant criticism of the erstwhile UPA governments, claiming that in the last 70 years, nobody had been as foolish to carry out demonetisation and the “Gabbar Singh Tax”, referring to the Goods and Services Tax.
  • The Election Commission directed the Delhi Police to file a first information report against BJP’s candidate Gautam Gambhir for holding a political rally without permission.
  • Narendra Modi hit out at the mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal, saying that the “alliance of opportunists” wants a helpless government. 
  • A video of some people purportedly casting their votes multiple times in Kannur district of Kasargod Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala went viral on social media. The seat, along with 19 other parliamentary constituencies, went to polls in the third phase of Lok Sabha elections on April 23.    
  • BSP chief Mayawati denied having any role in the sale of sugar mills during her tenure as Uttar Pradesh chief minister. The Central Bureau of Investigation had filed an FIR to probe alleged irregularities in the disinvestment of 21 state-owned sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh in 2010-’11.