10.52 pm: Here are the top updates of the day:

  • The Election Commission said Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not violate the Model Code of Conduct by appealing to first-time voters to dedicate their votes to security personnel killed in the Pulwama attack in February.
  • The Election Commission rejected the nomination of Samajwadi Party’s candidate from Varanasi Tej Bahadur Yadav.
  • Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of supporting those who wish to divide India by separating Kashmir from the country.
  • A court in Delhi issued summons to the state Election Commissions of Uttar Pradesh and Delhi on a complaint filed against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s wife for allegedly of holding multiple voter identity cards.
  • The Congress moved the Election Commission against the alleged misuse of state machinery by the Prime Minister’s Office for Narendra Modi’s election campaign.
  • The Shiv Sena distanced itself from an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana that called for a ban on burqas in the country. The editorial was published in the Wednesday edition of the newspaper.
  • Social activist Agnivesh said that the Arya Samaj organisation has decided to support the Congress in its effort to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

9.45 pm: Pragya Singh Thakur, who is the BJP’s candidate from Bhopal, says she respects the Election Commission decision to bar her from campaigning for three days, reports ANI.

9 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi describes the United Nations’ decision to list Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist as a big victory, ANI reports.

8.51 pm: The Election Commission has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not violate the Model Code of Conduct by citing the Pulwama attack, NDTV reports.

Read more here:

PM Modi urges first-time voters to dedicate votes to soldiers who carried out Balakot air strike

8.23 pm: The Election Commission has barred the BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur from campaigning for three days, starting 6 am on Thursday, for saying that she is proud of her role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992, reports NDTV.

Read more here:

Election Commission orders FIR against BJP’s Pragya Thakur for remark on Babri Masjid demolition

7.37 pm: Gujarat court issues summons to Congress President Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case involving remarks against BJP President Amit Shah, PTI reports.

7.25 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi claims that the Congress dreams of killing him. “Congress hates Modi so much that it has started dreaming of killing Modi,” the prime minister tells a gathering in Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh. “But they have forgotten that the entire nation is batting for Modi.”

7.06 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu asks the Election Commission to relax curbs under the Model Code of Conduct in four districts of East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam because of Cyclone Fani, ANI reports.

6.20 pm: The Election Commission issues notice to Punjab minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu for his comment against Narendra Modi, calling the latter a thief, ANI reports. Sidhu had made the remark at a rally in Ahmedabad on April 17. The poll panel has asked Sidhu to reply by 6 pm on Thursday.

“China is building a railway line beneath the sea. US is finding life on Mars. Russia is trying to build an army of robots,” Sidhu had said at the rally. “And what is India doing? We are making a ‘chowkidar’ who is actually a ‘chor’ [thief]. I am telling you that you are indeed a thief.”

6.10 pm: A Delhi court asks AAP’s East Delhi candidate Atishi Marlena to prove her locus standi for filing a petition against her BJP rival Gautam Gambhir for allegedly enrolling as a voter in two Assembly segments, PTI reports. “How you are affected by this? If he has committed any wrong, what’s your locus,” Metropolitan Magistrate Viplav Das tells Marlena.

The court posted the matter for May 6, six days before Delhi goes to polls.

Marlena’s advocate Karuna Nundy tells the court that Gambhir was a “dead man walking”. “Even if he wins, people of East Delhi should not be saddled with an MP who has no chance of survival in the near future. Voters should not be made to suffer,” PTI quotes Nandy as saying.

5.35 pm: Narendra Modi says soon after the blasts in Sri Lanka, its president banned religious preacher Zakir Naik’s Peace TV in the country. “This is the same Zakir Naik in whose ‘durbar’ Diggi Raja [Congress leader Digvijay Singh] used to praise,” Modi says.

According to a report in Colombo Gazette on Wednesday, cable operators in Sri Lanka blocked Peace TV, however, an official announcement regarding the same is yet to be made.

5.30 pm: AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal alleges Narendra Modi got former BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav’s nomination cancelled, PTI reports. Yadav was fielded by the Samajwadi Party from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency to contest against the prime minister. However, his nomination was rejected over alleged discrepancies in the two sets of nomination papers submitted by him.

“There will be fewer occasions in history when the jawans of a country are compelled to challenge their PM, but this is the first time in history that a PM has been so afraid of a jawan that instead of competing with him, he got his nomination cancelled on technical grounds,” Kejriwal says on Twitter. “Modi ji, you are very weak and the country’s jawan won.”

Read more here: Sacked BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav’s nomination rejected, he may now approach SC

5.18 pm: Mamata Banerjee takes on the BJP-led government in Maharashtra and Jharkhand after the Maoist attack at Gadchiroli that claimed the lives of 15 security personnel. “We have restored peace in Junglemahal area,” she says, according to PTI. “We have establish peace there. Let BJP do the same in states like Jharkhand and Maharashtra in dealing with the Naxalites and restore peace.”

Junglemahal area was once a hotbed of Maoists comprising the districts of Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore.

5.15 pm: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee says her party will win all the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal while the BJP will draw a blank. “I am sure that BJP will not come to power in the country and in West Bengal it will draw a blank this time, down from two seats it got in the last Lok Sabha polls,” she says at a rally in Howrah district, according to PTI.

5.05 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi says his party’s proposed NYAY scheme will be an answer to the wrong policies of the BJP government that have annihilated the country’s economy, PTI reports. “The NYAY Scheme of the Congress is the only answer to the poor people affected by the wrong policies of the BJP,” Gandhi says at a rally in Biswan Lok Sabha constituency of Uttar Pradesh. The Congress has fielded Kaiser Jahan from the seat.

“Modi ji favoured a group of 15 people by giving them Rs 5,55,000 crore but the Congress will take this amount back from them and use it for benefitting 25 crore poor families of this country,” Gandhi adds.

5 pm: Following the Maoist attack in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, the Congress claims despite “tall talk”, the BJP-led government has learnt no lessons from Pulwama terror attack. “Once again terrorists have targeted the convoys of our jawans,” Congress leader Ahmed Patel tweets. “It is a wake-up call for state and central governments. Country needs preventive action, accountability for this failure & not jumlas and lectures.”

4.56 pm: The Delhi High Court directs the Election Commission to file an affidavit detailing the powers it has to ensure the implementation of guidelines regarding disclosure of expenditure by political parties, PTI reports.

4.45 pm: Karnataka minister GT Deve Gowda says workers of Janata Dal (Secular) in Mysuru and other places may have voted for the BJP as there were differences between his party and its ally, Congress, PTI reports. “Those who were in Congress voted for Congress and those in JD(S) voted for the BJP. Similar things happened elsewhere too,” Gowda says.

Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao says Gowda’s statement was not good for the coalition government. “I am not able to figure out how he (Gowda) had worked during the election because he has given contradictory statements,” PTI quotes Rao as saying. Such statements are not good for the coalition government...Such things would happen because those given responsibility did not work sincerely. There seems to be lack of sincerity.”

The seat sharing arrangement for the Lok Sabha elections between the Congress and the JD(S) had triggered differences between the workers of both the parties.

4.29 pm: The Congress moves the Election Commission of India against the alleged misuse of the Prime Minister’s Office to collect information in advance about places where Narendra Modi is set to campaign, PTI reports. Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi says the prime minister is like any other campaigner and state machinery cannot be used for campaigning.

Singhvi claims the PMO is misuing the NITI Aayog and asking it to write letters to the district administration of those places where the PM is scheduled to campaign, according to PTI.

4.20 pm: AAP leader Manish Sisodia alleges that the BJP has offered seven of his party MLAs in Delhi Rs 10 crore each to join the saffron party, PTI reports. “Since the BJP does not have any development issue to raise, it has now come down to indulging in horse trading by attempting to buy seven of our MLAs at Rs 10 crore each,” Sisodia claims.

BJP leader Ashok Goyal calls Sisodia’s claims “bizarre” and a desperate bid to gain attention. “The AAP is baffled as it is loosing the elections and its leaders are trying desperately to gain attention by making bizarre allegations,” Goyal says.

4.08 pm: Tej Bahadur Yadav’s lawyer says they had submitted the required evidence to the poll panel. “Still, the nomination was declared invalid. We will go to the Supreme Court,” Rajesh Gupta says, according to ANI.

4.05 pm: CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury hits out over the Election Commission’s decision to clear Narendra Modi on a complaint of Model Code of Conduct violation, PTI reports. “In dealing with violations of Model Code of Conduct, the ECI appears to be not only halting, but carrying on at a pace which is emboldening perpetrators and exemplifies the notion of ‘delayed justice’ amounting to its actual ‘denial’,” Yechury tells the poll panel in a letter.

“Is Narendra Modi needed to be differently because he happens to be the incumbent prime minister?” Yechury says.

3.58 pm: The Election Commission rejects the nomination of Samajwadi Party’s candidate from Varanasi Tej Bahadur Yadav. “My nomination has been wrongly rejected,” Yadav tells reporters, according to ANI. “I was asked to produce the evidence at 6.15 pm yesterday, we produced the evidence, still my nomination was rejected. We will go to the Supreme Court.”

Yadav says he has been told that he did not produce the evidence that was asked from him before 11 am today.

On Tuesday, the poll panel had issued a notice to Yadav, a sacked Border Security Force jawan, saying that government employees who have been dismissed for corruption or disloyalty to the state” shall be disqualified from campaigning for five years”.

3.45 pm: A Delhi court issues summons to the state Election Commission of Uttar Pradesh and Delhi on a complaint against Arvind Kejriwal’s wife Sunita Kejriwal for allegedly having multiple voter identity cards, PTI reports. The complaint was filed by Delhi BJP leader Harish Khurana who has alleged that Sunita Kejriwal three cards – one listing her as a resident of Sahibabad in Uttar Pradesh, another as a resident of Chandni Chowk in New Delhi, and a third registered in Kolkata.

3.40 pm: Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi says those who are opposed to liquor ban in the state can vote for the Opposition if they wish, PTI reports. The Opposition, led by the Rashtriya Janata Dal, has claimed that the policy has not worked in Bihar and that alcohol is available in the black market.

“Drunken brawls that would earlier happen on the streets have gone away,” Sushil Kumar Modi tells PTI. “There used to be cases of eve-teasing by drunk ruffians which is no longer the case. Poor people, who would spend their hard-earned money on liquor, now save it.”

3.25 pm: BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra takes on the Congress after Opposition leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said her party will cut into the votes of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, PTI reports. “The Congress party is not contesting elections to win but to cut into votes of BJP,” Patra said, adding that there is confusion whether the Congress is part of the grand alliance or not.

Earlier in the day, Gandhi had said said that her party will not cut into the votes of the Opposition alliance in the state of Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal.

3.12 pm: Congress candidate from New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency Ajay Maken says it would be difficult for the party to win all seats in Delhi without an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party. “Had there been an alliance, we would have won on all seven Delhi seats by margins of 2 to 3 lakh each,” Maken tells Hindustan Times. “Now, we will not win all seven seats and the margins will be smaller.”

However, he says the anti-BJP votes will not split. “People are going to vote for the Congress because our candidates have huge administrative and political experience. Many of us also have an unblemished track record,” he adds.

3.08 pm: Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi says if the Congress comes to power in the Lok Sabha elections, it will order a “comprehensive inquiry” into the Rafale jet deal, PTI reports. The role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, other government functionaries and private people will be investigated, he says.

3 pm: Addressing a rally in Kalyani under the Bongaon Lok Sabha constituency, Shah says BJP will continue its fight to ensure that Kashmir remains an integral part of India. “If a day comes when BJP is no longer in power, its workers will still fight to ensure Kashmir remains a part of India,” Shah says, according to PTI.

1.25 pm: Odisha’s Chief Electoral Officer Surendra Kumar says the poll panel has approved shifting of polled EVMs in two districts – Jagatsinghpur and Gajapati. “Entire shifting process will be conducted in presence of candidates and the entire process will be videographed,” Kumar says, according to ANI.

Cyclone Fani is likely to make landfall in Odisha on May 3.

1.20 pm: Shah claims infiltrators in West Bengal are “vote bank” for Mamata Banerjee and that is why she opposes the National Register of Citizens. He alleges that the Trinamool Congress government has ruined West Bengal’s culture.

“Congress and the Communist Party can not fight against Mamata. Only the BJP can defeat her and bring peace and harmony in West Bengal,” he says.

1.14 pm: Asadduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen says the Shiv Sena’s proposal asking Narendra Modi to ban the burqa violated the Model Code of Conduct. “Shiv Sena is ignorant. The Supreme Court’s judgement on privacy clearly lays down that the choice is now a fundamental right,” he says, according to ANI. “I request the Election Commission to take immediate note of it, it is an attempt to create polarisation.”

1.05 pm: BJP President Amit Shah addresses a public meeting in North 24 Parganas in West Bengal. “These elections are more important for Bengal than the rest of the country. It will decide if democracy will survive here or not,” Shah says.

12.54 pm: AAP’s New Delhi candidate Brijesh Goyal claims his BJP rival has been inaccessible and unavailable to the voters in the constituency. “Wherever I visited in my constituency in last six months I saw a very strong anti-incumbency with slogan of ‘Meenakshi Lekhi Kabhi Nahi Dekhi’,” he tells PTI.

The Congress has fielded Ajay Maken from the seat.

12.30 pm: Referring to the blasts that took place in Ayodhya and Faizabad in 2005 and 2007, Modi says in the last five years there have been no reports of such blasts. Modi also refers to the recent bomb blasts in Sri Lanka. “We need to be vigilant,” the prime minister says, according to News18. “Terror hubs are present in our neighbouring countries. it’s a business for them and we have taken strong action against them. But other parties let them go free for their vote bank.”

12.22 pm: Modi claims the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have in the past gone soft on terror. “Our security forces would catch the helpers of terrorism, but the previous governments let go off them for votes,” he says. “Now all these parties want to come together to form a helpless government at the Centre.”

Read more here: ‘Mayawati’s actions have been contrary to BR Amebedkar’s principles,’ claims Modi

12.14 pm: Narendra Modi addresses a rally in Ambedkarnagar district of Ayodhya. He takes on Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, claiming her actions have been contrary to BR Amebedkar’s principles.

11.50 am: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi says the BJP will suffer a major setback in Uttar Pradesh. “In those seats where Congress is strong and our candidates are giving a tough fight, Congress will win,” she tells reporters. “Jahan hamare ummedwar thode halke hain, wahan humne aise ummedwar diye hain jo BJP ka vote kaate [In seats where our candidates are little weak, they will cut into BJP’s vote].”

11.34 am: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra meets supporters in Baghola, Rae Bareli.

11.33 am: BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Singh Thakur supports the Shiv Sena’s proposal to ban burqas, reports News18. She says said that in the interest of the nation and its security, the Muslim community should come forward and express solidarity in the matter.

Read more: Shiv Sena asks Narendra Modi to follow Sri Lanka’s example, ban the burqa

11.26 am: AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will address a road show today. “On May 1, Kejriwal would take out a roadshow in Chandni Chowk from Model Town Assembly constituency at 4 pm and cover many areas of the constituency,” says AAP Delhi convener Gopal Rai.

11.12 am: The Election Commission says neither West Bengal Police nor central forces are allowed inside the polling booth, reports ANI. They can enter if and when the presiding officer calls them in.

11.11 am: NCP MP Majeed Memon questioned Shiv Sena’s timing of asking for a ban on burqas. “Why this issue has been raised when the polling process is still on,” asks Memon, according to News18. “There are 3 more phases left. This is a sensitive issue, it should not have been raised now.” He urges the Election Commission to take note. “Shiv Sena has no business, it is a political party. It can’t make this kind of a statement in middle of the polling to influence voters in Ayodhya and other places. PM is also going to speak and he may also touch this subject.”

10.45 am: Congress candidate from New Delhi constituency Ajay Maken says without an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party winning all seats in Delhi will be tough. “Had there been an alliance, we would have won on all seven Delhi seats by margins of 2-3 lakh each,” he tells Hindustan Times in an interview. “Now, we won’t win all seven seats and the margins will be smaller.”

10.42 am: Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala says there cannot be two laws for Modiji and the rest of the country after the Election Commission gives clean chit to the prime minister with regard to his Wayand remarks. “Disappointed that the Prime Minister of India is permitted to go scot-free after rampant violation of Article 324 & MCC,” Surjewala tweeted. “It is now crystal clear that MCC has become ‘Modi Code of Conduct’ !”

10.28 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi will hold a rally in Ramnagar in Uttar Pradesh while party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi will continue to campaign in Amethi and Rae Bareli.

10.26 am: An FIR has been filed against Shatrughan Sinha, the Congress candidate for Patna Sahib, reports India Today. He has been charged with using an unpermitted vehicle for filing his nomination.

10.24 am: NDA MP Ramdas Athawale decries the burqa ban proposed by Shiv Sena, reports ANI. “Not all women who wear burqa are terrorists, if they are terrorists their burqa should be removed,” he says. “It’s a tradition and they have the right to wear it, there shouldn’t be a ban on burqa in India.”

10.03 am: Special Police Observer for West Bengal Vivek Dubey says 578 companies of central forces will be deployed for fifth phase of polling, reports ANI. Besides, 142 Quick Response Teams also will be on standby.

9.57 am: Among the 184 candidates in the fray in the fifth phase of elections, Samajwadi Party nominee Poonam Sinha is the richest candidate, according to Association for Democratic Reforms. The Lucknow candidate has declared assets worth Rs 193 crore. Pragatishil Samajwadi Party (Lohia) candidate from Sitapur Vijay Kumar Mishra with Rs 177 crore assets is second richest while BJP’s Jayant Sinha is third on the list with declared assets worth Rs 77 crore.

9.54 am: Congress leader and Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot says his party wants to bring “employment revolution” in the country. “Green revolution happened in India when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister,” he tells PTI. “The Congress has now committed itself to have an employment revolution in the country and therefore the party’s plan in the elections is focused on job creation.”

9.49 am: BJP’s East Delhi candidate Gautam Gambhir says he does not believe in debates and dharnas. “In the last four-and-a-half years, there’s only been debates in Delhi and I think people are tired of it,” he tells News18. “Debates will take you nowhere, but going on the ground will.”

Read more here: Delhi: Gautam Gambhir dismisses Atishi Marlena’s open debate challenge, says people are tired of it

9.42 am: A complaint has been filed against Aam Aadmi Party’s West Delhi candidate Balbir Singh Jakhar for allegedly conducting meetings inside religious places in Madipur, reports PTI. He, however, denies holding any such meeting inside a religious place.

9.40 am: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi says she was advised against contesting from Varanasi by senior leaders of the party. “They firmly felt that I have responsibility here of looking after 41 seats,” she tells ANI. “I felt that they [candidates] would be disappointed if I focused on only one place.”

9.38 am: Congress’s Hazaribagh candidate Gopal Sahu faces an FIR after Rs 22 lakh cash was seized from his hotel room, reports PTI. The FIR also names Sahu’s son, Sandeep Kumar Sahu.

9.36 am: Jharkhand People’s Party candidate from the Jamshedpur Lok Sabha seat Surya Singh Besra and another party leader have been named in an FIR for allegedly trying to bribe a journalist, reports PTI.

9.31 am: Narendra Modi is scheduled to address a rally in Maya Bazaar near Ayodhya at noon today. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party President Mayawati will hold a joint rally at Ram Snehi Ghat, about 70 km from the temple town.

9.28 am: In an apparent reference to Narendra Modi, actor and Samajwadi Party leader Jaya Bachchan says that the person responsible for safeguarding the country is the one who is creating chaos and disorder. Campaigning for SP Lucknow candidate Poonam Sinha, Bachchan asks voters to come out in large numbers and vote in the ongoing polls. “You all have to support our candidates who are contesting, with the same amount of enthusiasm and prove that Samajwadi workers are with them,” she adds.

9.22 am: The Election Commission approves a proposal to lift the Model Code of Conduct in Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Gajapati, Ganjam, Khordha, Cuttack and Jajpur districts of Odisha to facilitate rescue and relief work after cyclonic storm Fani makes landfall, reports ANI.

9.20 am: People pay their tributes to Nandyal MP and Jana Sena Party candidate SPY Reddy, reports ANI. He died at a hospital in Hyderabad on Tuesday night.

9.18 am: The Election Commission bars Gujarat BJP President Jitubhai Vaghani from campaigning for 72 hours starting from 4 pm on Thursday, reports ANI.

9.05 am: The Election Commission issues a notice to sacked Border Security Force jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav, saying that government employees who have been dismissed for “corruption or disloyalty to the state” shall be disqualified from campaigning for five years.

Read more here: Poll panel issues notice to sacked BSF jawan contesting on Samajwadi Party ticket in Varanasi

8.58 am: Here are the top updates from Tuesday:

  • The Election Commission said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s criticism of Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s nomination from Wayanad district in Kerala did not violate the Model Code of Conduct.
  • The poll panel banned Samajwadi Party’s Rampur candidate Azam Khan from campaigning for 48 hours for his provocative remarks about election authorities in Uttar Pradesh and for attempting to secure votes along religious lines. The order will come into force at 6 am on Wednesday. 
  • The Supreme Court gave Rahul Gandhi time till May 6 to file a fresh affidavit in a contempt of court plea filed against his remarks on the Rafale deal. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi told the bench that Congress president had remarked that the “Supreme Court has said chowkidar chor hai” in its verdict.
  • The Trinamool Congress has filed a complaint against Narendra Modi with the Election Commission for his remark that 40 MLAs of the party are in touch with him and will desert it after the results of the Lok Sabha elections are announced on May 23, party MP Derek O’Brien said on Tuesday. The TMC has demanded that Modi provide an explanation for his comment, failing which his nomination should be cancelled.
  • The Supreme Court issued a notice to the Election Commission of India based on a petition from the Congress accusing the poll panel of inaction against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah.
  • Narendra Modi said Opposition leaders have lost their sleep after four phases of polling in the Lok Sabha elections. Modi said May 23 – the day of election results – will be the Opposition’s “expiry date”.
  • An electronic voting machine used at a booth in Nogaon Phadna village in Uttar Pradesh’s Mahoba district went missing on Monday after polls closed in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections. It was recovered on Tuesday, with the seal intact, from the waiting room of the village bus stand.