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

  • Opposition leaders criticised Narendra Modi’s press meet with BJP chief Amit Shah. Modi held his first “press conference” in five years, but did not answer a single question posed to him, instead directing reporters to Shah.
  • Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan said that the word “Hindu” is not native to India, but of foreign origin. “Neither the Alwars nor the Nayanmars, the famed Vaishnavite and Shaivite saints, had made any note on ‘Hindu’,” Haasan said in a tweet.    
  • The BJP suspended its Madhya Pradesh media cell head Anil Saumitra from its primary membership for his remark claiming that Mahatma Gandhi is the “father of Pakistan”. 
  • Union minister Anantkumar Hegde called Congress President Rahul Gandhi a “moron” for his claims that there is a new word in the English dictionary called “Modilie”, targeting Modi.
  • Narendra Modi said he will never be able to forgive BJP Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur for calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin a patriot. Those who speak like this should think a hundred times before speaking, he said.

10.12 pm: The Election Commission orders repolling in Saltora and ChhatarKanali villages of Bankura district, ANI reports. The Bankura Lok Sabha constituency went to polls on May 12.

10.10 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, will visit Lucknow on Saturday to meet Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, presidents of Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party, ANI reports.

9 pm: Mayawati alleges that BJP workers in Varanasi were bribing and threatening voters, IANS reports. She questioned why the Election Commission was not keeping an eye on his Lok Sabha seat like the poll panel was in West Bengal.

“How can free and fair elections be held in Varanasi if efforts are being made to ensure Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s victory?” Mayawati tweets. “The voters are being first lured and then threatened. Why is the Election Commission not keeping an eye here like it is doing in West Bengal?”

8.45 pm: Congress candidate and former BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha says the Opposition’s coalition will blow away the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar, PTI reports.

“The BJP once bragged it was going to get 400 plus seats,” Sinha says. “Now it has scaled down its bluster by 100 seats. Seriously speaking, we are confident of Congress emerging as the single largest party. We acknowledge that states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa where we do not have an alliance with the dominant regional parties, will play a major contributory role in formation of the next government.”

8.42 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu meets Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, ANI reports.

8.11 pm: Union Minister Jitendra Singh says if former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi can be given credit for India’s victory in the 1971 war, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be given credit for the Balakot airstrike, PTI reports.

7.53 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh says he will resign if the Congress loses the Lok Sabha polls in his state, News18 reports. “If the Congress is wiped out in Punjab in this election, what do you think I will do?,” Singh says. “Obviously I will accept responsibility and resign.”

7.34 pm: Tamil Nadu Police registers case against local BJP functionary and two others for allegedly throwing eggs and stones at Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan, PTI reports.

7.28 pm: Biju Janata Dal Vice President SN Patro says Indians want Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to become prime minister. “CM Naveen Patnaik is eligible to become the prime minister,” says Patro. “The BJD will no longer adopt the equidistant policy, it will extend support to whoever works for Odisha’s interest.”

7.21 pm: Election Commission advisor Bhanwar Lal asks returning officer to consider last phase of Lok Sabha polling as a challenge, PTI reports. “It is required that the officials work with full attention for zero error in counting process,” Lal tells returning officers at training programme.

7.10 pm: Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan claims term Hindu was coined by Mughals. “Neither the Alwars nor the Nayanmars, the famed Vaishnavite and Shaivite saints, had made any note on ‘Hindu,’ he tweets. “There has been no mention of ‘Hindu’ by the 12 Alwars or Nayanmars. We were christened Hindu by Mughals or those [foreign] rulers who predated them.”

Haasan says the British endorsed the coinage.

The actor-turned-politician has faced backlash for calling Godse “India’s first extremist” and pointing out that he was a Hindu.

Read more here:

‘Terrorists abound in all religions’: Kamal Haasan again defends his Nathuram Godse remark

7. 04 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu meets leaders of Left-leaning parties including Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury in Delhi, News18 reports.

7 pm: Gujarat Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani pokes fun at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for avoiding questions at a press meet. “Modiji is so full of Mann ki Baat that he could not understand that a press conference also has questions,” Mevani tweets. “Even radios have interactive shows nowadays.”

Read more here:

‘Showing up is half the battle’: Rahul Gandhi mocks PM Narendra Modi’s press meet

4.52 pm: Owaisi says “PM Modi’s drama” has to stop. “This culture of demeaning every national icon and institution was started by you,” he tweets. “Sadhvi [BJP candidate Pragya Thakur] is taking it to its logical end. After all don’t you have Godse’s conspirators portrait in your office?”

6.49 pm: All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi criticises Prime Minister Narendra Modi for avoiding questions at press meet. “Nice presser,” Owaisi tweets. “It would have been better if you actually took questions, instead of just sitting there. You were all about that DEEDAAR but not about answering questions But sure, everyone has to start somewhere.”

6.38 pm: Congress changes its Twitter handle profile picture to a photograph of Mahatma Gandhi amid the controversy surrounding BJP candidate Pragya Thakur’s remark that his assassin was a patriot.

6.30 pm: Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti claims most journalists at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first-ever press meet were pliable. “Circulation of elites / regime change is a given,” tweets Mufti. “But never before have we witnessed such a shamelessly pliable and obsequious media ilk. Barring a few, most of them made a Faustian bargain with this government. A crying shame.”

6.21 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu says Election Commission has to address all grievances simultaneously and take appropriate action, ANI reports. Naidu says he discussed concerns about the Chandragiri Assembly and Chittoor parliamentary re-poll and other matters with the Election Commission.

6.13 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi derides Modi for not taking any questions during press meet. “Congratulations Modi Ji,” Gandhi tweets. “Excellent press conference! Showing up is half the battle. Next time Mr Shah may even allow you to answer a couple of questions. Well done!”

6 pm: Window for campaigning for the final phase of the Lok Sabha polls ends at 6 pm.

6 pm: Congress mocks Prime Minister Narendra Modi for redirecting questions from reporters to BJP President Amit Shah at a party press briefing on Twitter.

5.47 pm: Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti says PM Modi’s condemnation of BJP candidate Pragya Thakur’s remark on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin is damage control. “Translation [of Modi’s statement]: Fully endorse such loose cannons but don’t want to scare the moderate vote bank away who fell for the vikas poll plank in 2014,” tweets Mufti.

Read more here:

Godse remarks: Narendra Modi says he will never be able to forgive Pragya Thakur

5.43 pm: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah claims that journalists at BJP press meet attended by Prime Minister Modi are party workers. “Amit Shah does not forget to thank the embedded BJP workers disguised as journalists,” Abdullah tweets sarcastically.

5.20 pm: When a reporter insists Modi answer a question, Shah says, “I am answering. It is not necessary that the prime minister answer every question...the question is baseless.”

5.14 pm: PM Modi refuses to take a question from a reporter. “Party chief is supreme,” says Modi as he diverts the question to Amit Shah.

5.10 pm: Amit Shah says BJP has served Pragya Singh Thakur a show cause notice and has asked her to reply within 10 days. “After she files a reply, party’s disciplinary committee will take appropriate action,” he adds.

5.08 pm: Amit Shah says 80 BJP workers have been killed in the last one and a half years. “Does Mamata Banerjee have an answer? Why is there no violence in others states and only in West Bengal?”

5.05 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi says, “Now that the prime minister is doing a live press conference, I want to ask him why didn’t he debate with me on Rafale?”

“I had challenged you for a debate, tell the press why didn’t you debate?” says Gandhi.

The Congress president claims that several reporters were prevented from entering Modi’s press meet. “I had asked Randeep Singh Surjewala to send some journalists to ask questions on our behalf,” Gandhi says. “He told me that the doors to the press meet had been shut.”

5 pm: “Our government has introduced a new culture of government – ‘last mile delivery’,” Modi says.

4.57 pm: Modi says his government will come to power with absolute majority for the second time. “A huge casualty took place on May 17, 2014....people in ‘Satta bazaar’ who used to bet for Congress to win in elections faced huge losses on May 17, 2014,” says Modi.

4.55 pm: “In last two elections, even IPL couldn’t be held,” says Modi. “When government is strong, IPL, Ramzaan, school exams and others take place peacefully.”

It is when there is a natural calamity in the country or election time that the journalists become very busy, Modi says.

4.51 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins addressing reporters at the press conference in Delhi.

4.50 pm: “On the election result day on May 23, BJP is confident it will win more than 300 seats to form the government and Modiji will become the prime minister once again,” says Amit Shah.

4.48 pm: Gandhi says Congress has played the role of the Opposition really well. “We dismantled the idea with which Modi came to power,” he adds.

The Congress leader says Narendra Modi and BJP have unlimited money and unlimited marketing. “They have a lot more than us,” Gandhi says. “The ratio I think would be 1:20. We only have the truth and the truth will win.”

4.47 pm: “It’s raining today, I got worried, what if Modi’s aircraft goes missing,” Rahul Gandhi says, in a sarcastic reference to Modi’s recent claims about poor weather during the Balakot air strikes.

4.46 pm: There is hardly any place left in the country where Narendra Modi has not visited between February and today, Amit Shah says.

4.45 pm: On Pragya Singh Thakur’s remarks, Gandhi says that Modi’s philosophy is one of violence, and it is different from Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy. He says that the Election Commission has been partial in its conduct during the polls, and has let off Modi for things for which others were warned.

4.40 pm: Meanwhile, Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses media simultaneously after his last election rally.

4.37 pm: This is the first elections when the Opposition has not raised topics like inflation and corruption, Shah says.

4.35 pm: The BJP government has been the most hard-working government since the elections after Independence, says Amit Shah. He adds the BJP government has introduced schemes to empower, women, farmers and Dalits. “Narendra Modi govt has launched 133 schemes to uplift all sections of society,” he adds.

4.32 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah address a press conference in New Delhi.

4.30 pm: The Election Commission says during the silence period, star campaigners and political leaders should refrain from addressing the media and giving interviews on election matters. “In multi-phased poll, silence period of last 48 hours may be on in certain constituencies while campaign is ongoing in other constituencies,” the poll panel says, according to ANI. “In such event, there shouldn’t be reference amounting to soliciting support for parties or candidates in seats observing silence period.”

4.05 pm: The Congress claims Narendra Modi and Amit Shah use Mahatma Gandhi for propaganda, but are “Godsewadi” in beliefs. “No matter how much Modi tried to hide Godse’s violent mask with Gandhi ji spectacles, but Mahatma Gandhi had said ‘I believe and it has been my experience of many times that no matter how much a person calls himself able but his hidden bad deeds do come to the fore’,” says Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, according to PTI.

“Godse killed Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, but from 2014-’19, Modi’s extremist supporters and followers have killed India’s soul repeatedly by calling Godse a patriot,” he says.

3.55 pm: Congress leader Sachin Pilot criticises Modi for comparing Mamata Banerjee and members of the Trinamool Congress with stone pelters of Jammu and Kashmir. About the recent violence in Kolkata, Pilot says: “The facts that have come to fore from ground in Kolkata clearly indicate that the BJP brought people from outside Bengal to for their roadshow. Whatever happened there is condemnable and indecent.”

3.50 pm: Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot says there is a resentment among the people of the country because of the type of politics that the BJP has done in the last few days, PTI reports. “None of the senior BJP leader neither stopped nor objected to Thakur’s statement calling an individual who killed Mahatma Gandhi as a patriot,” Pilot says. “The party leadership has neither refuted the statement nor terminated her [Thakur] membership. The BJP’s sidelining itself from the statement is not enough.”

3.30 pm: BJP suspends party leader Anil Saumitra, who called Mahatma Gandhi the father of Pakistan, ANI reports. The party asks him to explain his remarks in seven days.

Read more here:

BJP suspends Madhya Pradesh media chief for calling Mahatma Gandhi ‘father of Pakistan’

2.48 pm: Narendra Modi says he will never be able to forgive Pragya Singh Thakur for insulting Mahatma Gandhi. In an interview to News24, Modi says such remarks are condemnable and people should think 100 times before making such comments.

2.46 pm: The Election Commission announces that re-polling will be held in seven booths in Kerala on May 19. Re-polling will be held in four booths under Kasaragod constituency and three booths in Kannur. Several allegations of bogus voting had surfaced in these booths during the third phase of voting on April 23.

1.48 pm: Rahul Gandhi addresses an election rally in Solan, Himachal Pradesh.

1.31 pm: A special NIA court in Mumbai asks all the accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case to be present before it once a week. The seven accused in the case include Bharatiya Janata Party’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur.

Read more here:

Malegaon blasts case: Pragya Thakur and other accused told to appear in NIA court once a week

1.15 pm: During a roadshow in Mirzapur, Priyanka Gandhi calls Modi the biggest actor in the world, reports ANI. She says it would have been better if people had elected Amitabh Bachchan as the prime minister.

12.37 pm: Modi says the country has rejected the Congress. “The country agrees that those who are lobbying for a separate prime minister for Jammu and Kashmir should be punished in this election,” he adds.

12.32 pm: Modi claims the people will script history by electing a majority government second time in a row. “The entire nation, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir are once again saying, “abki bar Modi Sarkar...abki baar 300 paar”,” he adds.

12.31 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election rally in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh.

12.20 pm: BJP President Amit Shah says statements of Ananth Kumar Hegde, Pragya Thakur and Nalin Kumar Kateel are their personal opinion. “They have withdrawn their statements and apologised,” he tells ANI. Shah says the BJP has sent these statements to its disciplinary committee. “The disciplinary committee will seek explanation from all the three leaders and will submit the report to the party within 10 days,” he adds.

Read more here:

BJP will ask Pragya Thakur and two party MPs to explain their remarks on Nathuram Godse: Amit Shah

12.09 pm: Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad refutes his earlier statement of Congress not interested in PM post. “No, this is not true that Congress will not claim or Congress is not interested in Prime Minister post,” he tells ANI. “Of course we are the biggest and oldest political party. If we have to run the govt for five years biggest political party should be given a chance.”

12.04 pm: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi holds a roadshow in Mizrapur. Party candidate Lalitesh Pati Tripathi is also present.

11.34 am: Union minister Ramdas Athawale says Mayawati does not know what a family is since she is not married. “Mayawatiji is making remarks about Modi Ji & his wife,” Athawale tells ANI. “She [Mayawati] is not married, she doesn’t know what a family is, had she been married she would have known how to handle a husband. We respect Mayawati, she should not make such statements.”

11.21 am: Former Delhi minister Kapil Mishra says Nathuram Godse made Gandhi a “mahatma” and that Mahatma Gandhi became a hero only after his assassination.

11.19 am: BJP MP Nalin Kumar Kateel compares Nathuram Godse with former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. “Godse killed one, [Ajmal] Kasab killed 72, Rajiv Gandhi killed 17,000,” he tweets. “You judge who is more cruel in this??” He seems to have deleted the tweet.

10.52 am: BJP President Amit Shah will address a press conference at 3.45 pm today.

10.50 am: The election officer of Agar Malwa district submits his report to Madhya Pradesh Election Commission in connection with Pragya Singh Thakur’s Godse remark, reports ANI.

10.49 am: The Election Commission removes Diamond Harbour SDPO Mithun Kumar Dey and officer in charge of Amherst Park police station Kaushik Das following the violence in Kolkata, said reports.

10.05 am: A BJP delegation is going to meet the Election Commission today again to discuss the matter of West Bengal, reports News18.

10.04 am: Narendra Modi will be campaigning in Khargone in Madhya Pradesh today while Rahul Gandhi will address a public meeting in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh. Friday is the last day of campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections.

9.49 am: Union minister Anantkumar Hegde calls Congress President Rahul Gandhi a moron over his “Modilie” tweet. “This moron, Rahul Gandhi, is hell bent on proving himself that he is one of his own kind of international idiotic skill master and hence the horizons have extended beyond the boundaries. No one can prevent his growth...Amazing...!!!!,” tweets Hedge.

9.46 am: Car of BJP leaders Mukul Roy and Samik Bhattacharya were vandalised in Nagerbazar area in Kolkata on Thursday night, reports ABP Ananda. The BJP blames the ruling Trinamool Congress TMC for the incident.

9.30 am: BK Syngal, the man credited with bringing the internet to India, dismisses Narendra Modi’s claims that he used a digital camera and email in the late 1980s, reports ThePrint. Modi in an interview had said that he had emailed a photograph of LK Advani taken with digital camera in 1987 or 1988. “There is no way PM Modi could have used the internet in the 1980s, that too to transfer pictures,” Syngal tells ThePrint.

9.22 am: BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Thakur apologises for calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a patriot. “I apologise to the people of the country for my statements on Nathuram Godse,” she tweets. “My statement was absolutely wrong. I have huge respect for the father of the nation, Mahatama Gandhi.”

Read more here:

Pragya Thakur apologises for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot, says she respects Mahatma Gandhi

9.07 am: Union minister Smriti Irani criticises Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, saying the Congress leader offered namaz in Amethi and then visited a temple in Madhya Pradesh for votes, reports PTI. “The Congress was so flustered in Amethi that its general secretary, after offering namaz for votes there, now visited the revered Mahakal temple in Ujjain district,” Irani adds.

Read more here:

‘Priyanka Gandhi offers namaz in Amethi, visits temple in Ujjain for votes,’ says Smriti Irani

9.05 am: Kamal Haasan says he is not afraid of being arrested over his Godse remark. “Let them arrest me,” he tells ANI. “If they do that it will only create more problems. It is not a warning but only an advice.” Haasan says he does not feel threatened. “Every religion has their own terrorist, we cannot claim that we are sanctimonious,” he adds. “History shows that all religions have their extremists.”

Read more here:

‘Terrorists abound in all religions’: Kamal Haasan again defends his Nathuram Godse remark

9.01 am: Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu extends his support to his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu who claimed that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh blocked her attempts to get a party ticket. “My wife has that much strength and moral authority that she will never lie,” says Sidhu, according to NDTV. “This is my answer.”

8.57 am: BJP minister Manish Grover and former Congress MLA Bharat Bhushan Batra face an FIR in the alleged case of booth capturing in Rohtak, reports Hindustan Times. Assistant returning officer had complained that the two leaders entered polling booth No. 145 at Bhartiya Kanya Secondary School without permission. Polling in Rohtak was held on May 12.

8.46 am: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has sent letters to all key Opposition leaders, including Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, for a meeting on May 23, reports IANS. NCP’s Sharad Pawar and MK Stalin of the DMK have confirmed their participation.

Read more here:

‘Grand alliance’: Sonia Gandhi has invited Opposition leaders to a meeting on May 23, say reports

8.45 am: Priyanka Gandhi to hold roadshows in Mirzapur and Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh today.

8.28 am: Yadav says he is willing to walk two steps behind the BSP. “This is a gathbandhan for the future of this country,” he adds.

8.26 am: The SP chief alleges that that BJP made castes turn on each other. In 2014, the BJP fought the elections on caste and religion, he claims. “So we said this is an alliance on the ground, of the poor, of those whose rights are being taken away,” Yadav tells The Indian Express. “So we learnt from the BJP, applied the BJP formula back on the BJP.”

8.23 am: Yadav says the SP-BSP alliance was formed “because PM Modi came to UP and said he is (from) a backward (caste).” “People have understood that he is not. The two, three, of us are working to bring changes through social justice.

8.19 am: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav tells The Indian Express that the people of Uttar Pradesh are angry because this is the first prime minister who made promises and did the exact opposite of what he said. “They said they will provide 2 crore jobs every year; they took away jobs with the note ban and GST,” alleges Yadav. “Those who showed people dreams of smart cities, Digital India, they are not able to control the animals on the streets.”

Read more here:

SP-BSP alliance is the country’s future, Akhilesh Yadav tells ‘The Indian Express’

8.09 am: Here are the top updates from Thursday:

  • Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhimocked Modi for his “56-inch chest” remark, made during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. “You boasted about your 56-inch chest, but where is your heart?” she said at a rally in Maharajganj Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh. 
  • The West Bengal government appointed a Special Investigation Team to look into the destruction of Bengali reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s statue on Tuesday. Both the Trinamool Congress and the BJP have blamed each other for the incident.    
  • The Election Commission ordered the Madhya Pradesh chief electoral officer to submit a “factual” report on BJP candidate Pragya Singh Thakur’s remarks. Thakur had said that Nathuram Godse, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, was a patriot. Thakur later apologised for her remarks.    
  • Narendra Modi claimed at a rally in West Bengal that Mamata Banerjee wanted to imprison him. “Yesterday, I saw on media channels that Didi [Banerjee] has threatened to take over the offices and homes of Bharatiya Janata Party workers,” he added. 
  • Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the party has no problem if it does not get the prime minister’s post. “We will go with the unanimous decision [of Opposition parties],” he said.    
  • Narendra Modi said he is proud of the “divider-in-chief” tag bestowed upon him by the Congress if it means the poor think beyond caste and religion.