10.45 pm: Here are the top stories of the day:

  • The Election Commission said campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal will end on Thursday. Campaigning would have ended at 5 pm on Friday in normal circumstances, according to the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct. Mamata Banerjee asked why has the Election Commission not issued a showcause notice to Amit Shah for the violence. The chief minister alleged that the poll panel is running under the BJP. 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi called West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee intolerant, and claimed the Trinamool Congress’ goons had attacked BJP workers during Amit Shah’s roadshow. 
  • Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the whole country was making fun of Modi. “Narendra Modi used to make fun of [former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh],” Gandhi said at a rally in Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency in Punjab. “Today, he is not making fun of Singh. The country is now laughing at Modi.”
  • Congress candidate from Patna Sahib and former BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha said veteran politician LK Advani was in tears when he quit the saffron party but had never asked him to not leave. 
  • Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan said his comment about Nathuram Godse being “free India’s first extremist” was a “historical truth”, PTI reported. “Understand the meaning for the word extremist,” he said. “I could have used the word terrorist or murderer.” 
  • Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien called Amit Shah a liar after he alleged that the Mamata Banerjee-led party was responsible for the violence at his roadshow in Kolkata on Tuesday. O’Brien accused the Central paramilitary forces deployed to maintain law and order in the state of colluding with the BJP.

10.40 pm: The Election Commission orders Twitter India to remove all the tweets related to Lok Sabha elections exit polls, ANI reports.

10.05 pm: The Election Commission cutting down campaign time in West Bengal shows there is a “classic case of breakdown” of the Constitutional machinery in the state, BJP leader Arun Jaitley says.

“A constitutional authority, the Election Commission of India, has effectively held Bengal to be a state in anarchy,” Jaitley says on Twitter. “Repeatedly escalating violence, state supported Vandals, a partisan police and home department are the illustrations the ECI has given. A free campaign is not possible and therefore the campaign has to be cut short. This is a classical case of breakdown of the Constitutional Machinery.”

10 pm: Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury asks if the Election Commission decided to end campaigning in West Bengal from 10 pm on Thursday to allow PM Modi to address two rallies in the state.

“The decision by EC to stop campaigning a day in advance is not understood,” Yechury tweets. “The first thing being expected by EC was action against the lumpen elements of BJP and TMC for violence yesterday. Why has no action been initiated?”

He further says: “If a ban is intended for 72 hours, why is it starting at 10pm tomorrow? Is it to allow the two rallies of the PM before that?”

9.45 pm: The Congress in Telangana urges the state chief electoral officer to provide details of polling percentage up to 5 pm in four parliamentary constituencies. The Lok Sabha elections in the state were held on April 11.

In a letter to the officer, senior Congress leader and former MLA Marri Shashidhar Reddy seek copies of polling station-wise polling figures for Nizamabad, Secunderabad, Khammam and Chevella constituencies.

Reddy had earlier claimed that official information showed there was a 5.26% increase in poll percentage from the polling day to the next day.

9.32 pm: Banerjee alleges that the Election Commission is full of “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh people”, PTI reports. “There is no law and order problem in West Bengal,” Banerjee says. “Clamping Article 324 is unprecedented, unconstitutional and unethical,” she adds.

9.22 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claims that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, not the poll panel, ordered the removal of Principal Secretary Atri Bhattacharyya, PTI reports. She is addressing a press conference in Kolkata.

She alleges that the poll panel’s decision to end campaigning in the state on Thursday night is related to Amit Shah’s claim that the Election Commission is biased against the BJP, ANI reports. “Election Commission is running under the BJP,” she alleges. “This is an unprecedented decision. Yesterday’s violence was because of Amit Shah. Why has EC not issued a show-cause notice to him or sacked him?”

“Goons were brought from outside, they created violence wearing saffron, violence similar to when Babri Masjid was demolished,” Banerjee alleges.

9.12 pm: Congress president Rahul Gandhi is likely to meet the Dalit woman who was allegedly gangraped in front of her husband in Alwar district in Rajasthan, PTI reports.

8.30 pm: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra says the attack on Rae Bareli MLA Aditi Singh was an assault on democracy, PTI reports. “Nothing of this sort has ever happened in Rae Bareli. Country-made weapons, bricks and lathis were used in the attack. Zila panchayat members were dragged from their vehicles,” Vadra says.

The Congress alleges that the MLA was on her way to oversee the voting for a no-confidence motion against zila panchayat chairman Avadhesh Pratap Singh – the brother of BJP Lok Sabha candidate Dinesh Singh. The party has approached Governor Ram Naik, demanding a judicial investigation.

8.11 pm: The Congress has blamed the BJP for an attack on its Rae Bareli MLA Aditi Singh on Tuesday, PTI reports. “The Congress demands that the administration and local police take strict action against the culprits and a judicial enquiry ordered which will nail the criminal conspiracy by the BJP goons,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera reports.

8.04 pm: The Election Commission has relieved West Bengal Principal Secretary Atri Bhattacharya of his current charge “for having interfered in the process of conducting the election”. Additional Director General of Police (CID) Rajeev Kumar has also been relieved of his duties, and asked to report to the Union Home Ministry by 10 am on Thursday.

7.46 pm: The Election Commission says that campaigning in West Bengal will end on Thursday at 10 pm, NDTV reports. This order came following violence in Kolkata on Tuesday. Under the Model Code of Conduct, campaigning would have ended on Friday evening.

7.37 pm: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar asks the Election Commission whether he can stay in Chandigarh when voting is held in the state capital on May 19, PTI reports.

7.30 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi drives a tractor in Ludhiana city in Punjab, ANI reports. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Ludhiana MP Ravneet Bittu and Congress leader Asha Kumari.

7.24 pm: Union ministers Prakash Javadekar, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Harsh Vardhan and other BJP leaders have met Vice President Venkaiah Naidu over the violence in Kolkata at Amit Shah’s roadshow, ANI reports. “Protection of Rajya Sabha members is responsibility of House and chairperson,” Javadekar says. “We’ve submitted a memorandum to vice president on it and demanded that a report be sought and appropriate action be taken.”

7.16 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu accuses the BJP of inciting violence in West Bengal. “Strongly condemn the violence perpetrated by the BJP and its workers yesterday in Kolkata,” he tweets. “After desperately trying to destabilise the state government of West Bengal through CBI, ED and IT, they are now resorting to direct violence which shows their true colours.”

7.09 pm: Amit Shah accuses the Election Commission of “double standards” for remaining a “mute spectator” to rigging and violations of the Model Code of Conduct in West Bengal, PTI reports. “History-sheeters...are arrested during elections across the country,” he says at a press conference in New Delhi. In Bengal, they are released after furnishing a bond. What is this double standard from the EC? Why is it silent?”

Shah also rubbishes the Trinamool Congress’ charge that BJP workers vandalised a statue of Bengali writer and philosopher Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in Kolkata on Tuesday.

6.59 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi, in his latest taunt at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claims there is new word in the dictionary.There is a new word in the English Dictionary. Attached is a snapshot of the entry,” Gandhi tweets. He posted a snapshot of a dictionary that defines the word “Modilie” to mean “to constantly Modify the truth”.

The word does not exist in the English dictionary.

6.50 pm: Uttar Pradesh (East) Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Varanasi candidate Ajay Rai and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel hold roadshow in Varanasi.

6.38 pm: Modi says nobody should have faith in Mamata Banerjee. “Under didi’s administration, her syndicate is free from fear,” Modi says. “In this state, those who are robbing the poor are free from fear. The coal mafia and sand mafia is in power.”

6.30 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the corrupt have a problem with him. “These are the people who have a problem with surgical strikes and airstrikes,” Modi says in Diamond Harbour, West Bengal. “They are the ones who have the most faith in Pakistan’s lies. These kind of people need to be taught a lesson. The aunt-nephew duo has ruined West Bengal.”

6.04 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee leads a march from Beliaghata to Shyambazar in Kolkata to protest against the vandalism that occurred on Tuesday.

5.55 pm: Home Minister Rajnath Singh says the first information report against BJP President Amit Shah for the violence during his roadshow in Kolkata is a mockery of democracy and due process. “The West Bengal government is misusing the state machinery to stifle democratic rights of the people,” Singh tweets.

“These attempts at intimidating the leaders and workers of a political party will fail miserably. Law and order is a primary responsibility of a state government and its chief minister. The West Bengal government and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee should own the responsibility of the prevailing situation in the state.”

5.44 pm: Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan says his comment on Nathuram Godse was taken out of context, News18 reports. “People are angry about what I spoke in Aravakurichy,” Haasan says. “What I said there is a historical truth and it has been misquoted out of context. I only spoke once, but the media has played it 200 times.”

5.38 pm: Union Minister Smriti Irani takes an apparent jibe at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s administration, ANI reports. “You are lucky that when you chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’, you are not arrested,” Irani tells those gathered at an election rally in Himachal Pradesh. “Today in India, there is a state where if a common citizen merely says ‘Jai Sri Ram’, allies of Congress put him in jail.”

Read more here:

‘Will we chant Jai Shri Ram in Pakistan, if not in India?’ Amit Shah asks Mamata Banerjee

5.14 pm: Modi says Mamata Banerjee has ordered those who take the names of deities in public to be arrested. “Didi, you’re are taking West Bengal to an Emergency-like era,” Modi says. “Your [Banerjee] fight is against the West Bengal people and not just the BJP.”

5.05 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised Mamata Banerjee for getting BJP activist Priyanka Sharma arrested for posting a meme of the West Bengal chief minister. “Control your anger,” Modi says. “I suggest you make an atrocious caricature of me and give it to me after I am re-elected as prime minister. I will cherish that picture and keep it with me all my life. I will not lodge and FIR against you. What are you doing, didi?”

Read more here:

Mamata Banerjee meme: SC censures West Bengal government for delaying release of BJP leader

WhatsApp administrator, member arrested and released on bail over alleged morphed photo of PM Modi

4.56 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says Mamata Banerjee is scared of her own shadow. “The way she is insecure and resorting to violence, this time round the BJP will win the election on its own,” Modi says.

4.54 pm: Modi says Mamata Banerjee is bent on strangling democracy. “To save the corrupt, she goes on strike,” Modi says. “When West Bengal starts questioning you, you start threatening and perpetrating violence. Your threats have not affect on me.”

4.50 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says Mamata Banerjee had publicly threatened to take revenge on the BJP. “Mamata didi had declared publicly two days ago that she will take revenge,” Modi says. “She fulfilled her agenda within 24 hours. BJP President Amit Shah’s roadshow was attacked.”

3.47 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi says Prime Minister Narendra Modi is afraid of debating with him, ANI reports. “I will only speak for 15 minutes and he can speak for three hours,” Gandhi says. “But after those three hours he will lose face.”

3.45 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati says voters will oust “namo namo”, a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and vote in “Jai Bhim”, ANI reports.

3.31 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Tejinder Bagga refutes TMC’s claims that he was involved in the violence, ANI reports. “Nobody takes Derek O Brien seriously,” Bagga says. “I challenge him to prove that I was within 500 metres of the spot where violence broke out. I will leave politics if I am proved wrong or else he should leave politics if he fails to prove the charge.”

3.20 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath claims he told Uttar Pradesh officers to “change the timing of the Muharram procession when the Islamic event coincided with the day of Durga Puja festivities, ANI reports. “Across the country, Durga puja and the date for the Muharram procession fell on the same day,” Adityanath says in Barasat, West Bengal. In Uttar Pradesh, officers asked me if we should change the timing of the puja [to ensure that security personnel can maintain law and order for both events]. I said the timing of the puja will not be changed. ‘If you want to change timing, change the timing of Muharram procession’.”


2.56 pm: The Congress condemns the Kolkata violence. “We strongly condemn the violent desecration of the national icons like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, a renowned educationist, a relentless reformer who worked on Widow Remarriage Act,” says the party. Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi says this is symptomatic of a larger issue, reports News18. “What has happened under the BJP is that mobocracy has been actively encouraged.”

2.55 pm: Addressing a rally in Faridkot, Punjab, Congress President Rahul Gandhi promises strict action against those involved in incidents of sacrilege of religious scriptures in 2015, reports PTI.

2.52 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi denies the existence of “Hindu terrorism” in India. In an interview to NewsX, Modi on Tuesday said, “In my culture and in my limited knowledge, no Hindu can ever be a terrorist and if he is a terrorist, he can never be a Hindu.” The prime minister’s statement comes a day after actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan called Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse independent India’s first terrorist and pointed out that he was a Hindu.

Read more here:

No Hindu can ever be a terrorist, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi

2.44 pm: BJP leader Rahul Sinha addresses a press conference. He questions why outsiders were present inside Vidyasagar College. “Outsiders were seen with TMCP leaders, which establishes they are associated with the party,’ Sinha alleges.

2.41 pm: TMC leader Derek O’Brien releases video to claim BJP damaged statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.

2.39 pm: The president of the BJP does what he does with his goons, who he hired from outside Bengal, says Derek O’Brien. “What happened yesterday hurt the very ethos of Bengal,” he adds.

2.34 pm: He claims to have video footage of the incident. “We will be going to EC with the video footage at 4.30 pm today,” says Derek O’Brien.

2.33 pm: Anybody can come and do a procession, but what were the outsiders? asks Derek O’Brien. “Who is this fellow Tejinder Bagga? Who is he? He was arrested, is he not the same guy who slapped somebody in Delhi? You [BJP] have taken in your outsider goons.

2.29 pm: Amit Shah is a liar, alleges TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’ Brien.

2.29 pm: The BJP is trying to justify the act, says the TMC delegation. “Vandalism in Bengal done by hired goons,” the party alleges.

2.28 pm: TMC delegation addresses the media. TMC leader Derek O’Brien calls it the saddest press conference ever.

2.08 pm: Congress cannot say they lost elections because of ‘naamdar’, it would be against the rules of dynasty, Modi says in Jharkhand. “That is why after the 5th phase, 2 of the closest ‘darbaari’ of the ‘naamdar’ family started batting on their own.” He is referring to Sam Pitroda and Mani Shankar Aiyar.

2.03 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a rally in Deoghar, Jharkhand.

1.54 pm: Modi questions the silence of Opposition leaders on the Kolkata violence. “Those who claim to be neutral, but are only after Modi, will not speak on the matter and this is a worrying situation,” he adds.

1.53 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi blames the Mamata Banerjee government for the violence at Amit Shah’s Kolkata rally. Speaking with News18, he says that there have been reports of violence from West Bengal throughout the elections. He says polls in even Jammu and Kashmir are more peaceful than this.

1.40 pm: TMC’s student wing protests against the vandalisation of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s statue.

1.18 pm: A four-member delegation of TMC will address a press conference at Constitution Club in New Delhi at 2 pm. The delegation will meet the Election Commission at 4.30 pm.

1.09 pm: Delhi High Court dismisses a petition against Kamal Haasan, reports ANI. It asks petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay to approach the appropriate forum as the incident took place in Tamil Nadu. Haasan had said that independent India’s first terrorist was a Hindu and his name was Nathuram Godse.

12.58 pm: Left Front chairperson Biman Basu says vandalising Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar’s bust cannot be the handiwork of someone from Bengal, reports News18. “A true Bengali cannot do this,” he says. “There should be a probe in to this matter. The incident is a black day for us. We strongly condemn this incident.”

12.52 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath’s rally in Kolkata cancelled. “When stage was being set up yesterday, labourers working on it were beaten up and scared away,” BJP leader Rahul Sinha tells ANI. “The stage was vandalised. The public meeting was scheduled for 2 pm today, stage couldn’t be repaired. So we had to cancel it.”

12.17 pm: Addressing the media, BJP youth wing leader Priyanka Sharma says she was not released even after 18 hours of the Supreme Court order. “They didn’t allow me to meet my advocate and family,” alleges Sharma. “They made me sign an apology.” She adds that she will fight the case and not apologise.

12.05 pm: BJP’s youth wing leader Priyanka Sharma released from Alipore Correctional Home in Kolkata.

11.59 am: Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad condemns the violence in Kolkata. “[The] BJP is also responsible for it,” he says, according to News18. “BJP wants to win seats in West Bengal and for that it is using its powers from Centre like CBI, ED and income tax department, but they won’t achieve anything.”

11.57 am: Several BJP leaders, including Union ministers Harsh Vardhan, Jitendra Singh and Vijay Goel, stage a protest against the violence at Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata.

11.56 am: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi will hold a roadshow in Narendra Modi’s Varanasi constituency today.

11.54 am: The mahamilavatis have only two issues – tarnish the image of Modi and dislodge him from power, says the prime minister.

11.53 am: Without naming the RJD, Modi alleges that the regional party used the caste card to rule the people of Bihar and worked merely to fill their coffers. “Be it Congress’ ‘naamdaar’ family or the corrupt family in Bihar, their assets are in thousands of crores now,” says Modi. “From where the money came? If they had little care of the nation and the poor, they would have hesitated from doing corruption.”

11.52 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins his speech in Paliganj in Bihar. He is campaigning for NDA candidate Ram Kripal Yadav.

11.51 am: The BJP chief challenges Mamata Banerjee to initiate independent investigation headed by the Calcutta High Court or the Supreme Court if she has nothing to hide. “I am also distressed at the fact that Vidyasagar’s statue was vandalised,” he adds.

11.50 am: Shah raises doubts over Election Commission’s credibility. “EC should interfere in this matter at the earliest,” he says. “They are just mute spectator to what is going on in West Bengal.”

11.37 am: Shah claims TMC workers damaged Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar’s bust to gain sympathy. “This is their conspiracy,” he adds. “They are trying to get sympathy from the people. But people can see through it. TMC’s days in Bengal is over. Election Comission is a mute spectator in West Bengal.”

Read more here:

‘Violence has taken place only in Bengal in all poll phases, clear that TMC is behind it’: Amit Shah

11.36 am: “I just got the news that didi [Mamata Banerjee] has filed FIR against me, does she not know? BJP is not afraid of FIRs,” says Amit Shah.

11.34 am: “If CRPF personnel were not present yesterday [Tuesday], I would not have come out of the violence unhurt,” says Shah.

11.31 am: The BJP is going to win more than 23 seats in West Bengal, claims Amit Shah.

11.28 am: The people of Bengal have decided that TMC will be defeated, says Amit Shah.

11.23 am: Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, BJP chief Amit Shah blames the TMC for Tuesday’s violence at his rally in Kolkata. “Mamata Banerjee claims that BJP is doing it, I want to tell her, we are fighting in every state in the nation, unlike you on 42 seats in West Bengal,” says Shah. “Violence didn’t take place in six phases of elections anywhere but Bengal which proves that TMC is responsible for it.”

11.19 am: Leaders of Left parties, including CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, protest in Kolkata after violence at Amit Shah’s roadshow, reports News18.

11.01 am: The Supreme Court says it will hear in July first week Priyanka Sharma’s plea seeking action against the West Bengal Police for arresting for sharing a meme of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, reports ANI.

Read more here:

Mamata Banerjee meme: SC censures West Bengal government for delaying release of BJP leader

10.55 am: The Supreme Court says it will issue a contempt notice after BJP youth wing worker Priyanka Sharma’s advocate claims that she has not been released yet, reports Bar and Bench. Sharma was arrested for sharing a meme of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

10.53 am: Kamal Haasan’s party, Makkal Needhi Maiam, says his Godse remark has been taken out of context, reports ANI. “The speech has been painted as anti-Hindu, with a malafide intent,” it says. The party says Haasan was calling for religious tolerance and co-existence, and condemned extremism in whichever form and religion.

10.39 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will campaign in Palganj in Bihar, Deoghar Jharkhand and then move to Basirhat and Diamond Harbour in West Bengal today.

10.36 am: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announces a protest rally against the vandalisation of Vidyasagar’s bust during Amit Shah’s Kolkata roadshow on Tuesday.

10.31 am: A Trinamool Congress delegation will meet the Election Commission today after Tuesday’s clash between Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad members and Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad supporters during Amit Shah’s Kolkata roadshow.

10.21 am: Mayawati acknowledges that Modi was indeed the chief minister of Gujarat for a longer time than her tenure as Uttar Pradesh chief minister. “But his legacy is a black stain on the BJP and the country’s communalism,” she alleges. “While, in our government, Uttar Pradesh was free of riots and anarchy.”

10.19 am: Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati says Narendra Modi does not hesitate to call her party “Behenji ki Sampatti Party”. “Whatever the national president of BSP has, it has been given by well-wishers and the society,” claims Mayawati. “Nothing is hidden from the government.”

10.16 am: BJP National Information and Technology in-charge Amit Malviya claims that Mamata Banerjee ordered a midnight crackdown on several saffron party leaders in Kolkata. “They were picked up in the middle of night, without due process of law being followed,” alleges Malviya. “Tajinder Bagga and several others are now in TMC’s illegal detention.”

10.10 am: Sarma claims Bengal is going to add to Narendra Modi’s number of seats in a big way. “I’ll be very conservative and I’ll say the number will be 20, give or take 10%,” he tells Hindustan Times. “That will be my own assessment but party cadre here have said that it won’t be less than 22.”

10.08 am: Sarma says one cannot distinguish between Modi and development. “It is not only for development, people are also voting against appeasement, people are voting for a strong leader and people are also voting for the nationalistic ideology,” he adds.

10.07 am: Sarma says Bengal has tremendous respect for Prime Minister Modi. “People are saying that they will vote for Modi,” he adds. “The prime minister’s image is single-handedly responsible for the BJP upsurge that you are seeing in Bengal today.”

10.05 am: Assam’s Finance and PWD Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma says West Bengal will throw up a “big surprise” in the Lok Sabha elections. In an interview to Hindustan Times, Sarma says people in Bengal are fed up with TMC’s rule. “Here, you will see it is a total criminalisation of politics,” he says. “I think people are fed up, people are fed up with the appeasement kind of politics.”

10.04 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi says he would rather die than insult Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s family. “Modi ji talks with hatred,” Gandhi says at a rally in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. “He insults my father, grandmother, great grandfather. But I will never in my life speak about his family, his mother and father. I will die, but will never insult his mother and father.” Gandhi’s comments come in response to Modi’s comments against his father, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Read more here:

I will die but will never insult Modi’s mother and father, says Rahul Gandhi

9.52 am: Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar allegedly abuses a TV reporter when the latter asked him about his article in which he recalled the “neech” slur against Narendra Modi, reports NDTV. “Don’t you know there is a person in India, Narendra Modi,” he said. “Haven’t you heard about his sharp attacks. Go and ask him questions. No, He doesn’t talk to you as he is a coward. He doesn’t talk to the media.”

9.05 am: The Election Commission seeks an explanation from three media outlets – IANS news agency, The Economic Times and Swaraj Mass Media – for allegedly predicting election results even before voting has ended, reports The Indian Express. This is a violation of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

9.03 am: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh dares the Opposition to name its prime ministerial candidate if it is sure of a victory in the elections, reports The Indian Express. He says the Opposition should not play “hide and seek” with people.

9 am: Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha tells NDTV that when he was leaving the BJP, he went to seek LK Advani’s blessings, and “he almost had tears in his eyes, but he didn’t say that I shouldn’t leave”.

8.48 am: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tells ANI that Mamata Banerjee has become so scared of her defeat that she is “killing democracy and doesn’t even want to let anyone campaign”.

8.46 am: Union minister Arun Jaitley asks if West Bengal has a “government of gangsters”. “Keep it up Amit Bhai,” he tweets. “Only Modi Ji and you can do in Bengal what others failed to realise. Victory is now at an arm’s length distance.”

8.45 am: BJP chief Amit Shah says he hopes the Election Commission will arrest the goons of Trinamool Congress and restore peace in West Bengal.

8.35 am: Here are the top updates from Tuesday.

  • Clashes broke out during a roadshow of BJP National President Amit Shah in Kolkata. The violence began after sticks were hurled at Shah’s truck. A war of words broke out between Mamata Banerjee and Shah following the violence. A BJP delegation urged the Election Commission to bar Mamata Banerjee from campaigning, accusing her of instigating the violence.
  • The BJP hit out at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar for justifying his description of Narendra Modi as “neech kisam ka aadmi [low-life kind of person]” during the Gujarat Assembly elections in 2017.
  • DMK President MK Stalin criticised Tamil Nadu BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan’s claim that the DMK is in talks with the saffron party for an alliance. Stalin said he will quit politics if Soundararajan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are able to prove that such talks are under way.
  • BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay mentioned Kamal Haasan’s statement about Nathuram Godse in a public interest litigation plea in the Delhi High Court. On Monday, Haasan had called Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin independent India’s first terrorist and pointed out that he was a Hindu.
  • Congress President Rahul Gandhi mocked Narendra Modi for claiming that he had given the Indian Air Force the green signal to proceed with airstrikes in Pakistan’s Balakot area on February 26 despite bad weather because “the clouds could actually help our planes escape the radars”.