8.52 pm: Here are the day’s top updates:

  • Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday reiterated his claims that the Bharatiya Janata Party was conspiring with officials in charge of his security to have him murdered.   
  • Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Saturday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s defeat would be more historic than his win.The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party-led administration for the lack of development in the Purvanchal region.   
  • Several reports on Friday alleged that Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa has recused himself from the poll panel’s meetings on deciding violations of the Model Code because his “minority decisions were going unrecorded”. Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, however, dismissed the reports as unsavoury. Urging people to stop speculating on the matter, Arora said it was an internal matter. The other member of the panel is Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra.
  • Congress General Secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to state his political position on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, Hindustan Times reported on Saturday.   

8.44 pm: Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee sends defamation notice to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making “wildly fabricated allegations” against him in West Bengal, reports said. Banerjee demands an unconditional apology within 36 hours of the receipt of the notice and threatens to initiate proceedings against the prime minister.

8.15 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claims the Bharatiya Janata Party was conspiring with officials in charge of his security to have him murdered. Kejriwal’s post about the matter on Twitter followed Leader of Opposition Vijendra Gupta’s reference to the Aam Aadmi Party chief’s claim as drama.

Read more here:

‘Why does the BJP want to kill me,’ asks Arvind Kejriwal

8 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati says Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s defeat would be more historic than his win. The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party-led administration for the lack of development in the Purvanchal region.

Read more here:

PM Modi’s defeat from Varanasi will be more historic than his win, says Mayawati

7.40 pm: West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress founder Mamata Banerjee writes to the Election Commission asking it to ensure “peaceful and impartial” elections without the interference of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday, the seventh and final phase of the elections, PTI reports.

“In the final phase of the election tomorrow, I would request your good office to kindly ensure that election is completed peacefully, impartially and without any undue interference of the Central government and any intervention by the ruling party at the centre,” Banerjee writes to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.

She also asks the EC to “protect democratic institutions and federal structure of the country and extend due respect to the opposition parties”.

7.01 pm: Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Liken Koyu says the repolling will be conducted in one booth in Koloriang for the Kurung Kumey district and another in Tali for the Kra Daadi district.

The two booths had already undergone repolling.

The poll panel says it took the decision after its team met representatives of several political parties on May 14 following reports about electoral violations.

The poll panel had already ordered repolling in 18 booths of Arunachal Pradesh on April 20 and 27.

6.53 pm: The Election Commission orders a fresh round of polling in two booths in Arunachal Pradesh on May 21, PTI reports.

6.44 pm: Tripura High Court serves notice to the Election Commission and asks it to submit details about the West Tripura Lok Sabha constituency by May 21, PTI reports. The court’s notice is based on a petition lodged by Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP and candidate Shankar Prasad Dutta seeking fresh polling for the seat.

On May 15, Dutta had alleged that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had resorted to violence during the polling on April 11. Dutta had initially moved the Supreme Court that had turned down his case for an urgent hearing of the matter and asked him to petition the high court.

6.30 pm: Election Commission issues notice to Congress’ Khandwa candidate Arun Subhash Chandra Yadav for alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct. The poll panel asks Yadav to reply within 24 hours failing. The panel says it will take a decision without consulting him if he fails to do so.

The panel’s decision is based on a complaint lodged by the BJP alleging that the Congress was illegally distributing pamphlets about the party’s proposed minimum income support scheme.

6.20 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu also meets Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati in Lucknow.

5.53 pm: Telugu Desam Party chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu meets Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow.

5.30 pm: The Trinamool Congress writes to the Election Commission asking it to direct that BJP leader Mukul Roy stay out of West Bengal constituencies that vote on Sunday. “He’s a voter of Delhi and lawfully not entitled to stay in any constituency in Bengal going to polls on commencement of 48-hour restriction period,” the letter says, according to ANI.

4.50 pm: Amarinder Singh Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands exposed “as a liar and a deceiver, who is only obsessed with staying in power”, according to PTI. “I doubt Modi has any craze or charm left anywhere in India after five years as prime minister,” he says. “People had lot of expectations, there was hope among the people but they were taken in by his hyped promises of jobs, doubling of farm income, money in every account etc.”

All 13 constituencies of Punjab are set to vote on Sunday in the final phase.

4.45 pm: “The defensiveness of the past has given way to a new aggression” under party president Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, Amarinder alleges. “Within the organisation, there is a palpable shift in the way we function,” Singh tells PTI. “There is more transparency and democracy. Rahul Gandhi, in the past five years, has evolved his style of functioning to connect with the workers at the grassroots.”

4.35 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh says there is a difference between the current Congress and the Congress of 2014, PTI reports.

“Regional leaders of the party have been given more say in the affairs of the Congress and its policies for states” in the last five years, says Singh. The Congress won the Assembly elections in Punjab in 2017 under Singh’s leadership. “The party is giving more importance to regional leaders than it was doing earlier.”

4.25 pm: YSR Congress writes to the Election Commission seeking additional central forces in Andhra Pradesh during the counting of votes on May 23, ANI reports.

4.15 pm: Preparations are underway for the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

4 pm: The Congress criticises the Election Commission amid reports of a rift in the panel and claimed that the Election Commission has become the “Election Omission”. “This is a day-light murder of Constitutional norms, set conventions and propriety,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala says. “The poll panel’s rules express preference for a unanimous view, but provide for a majority ruling in the absence of unanimity. Being a Constitutional body, the minority view has to be recorded, but this is being trampled to protect Modi-Shah duo.”

Read more here:

‘Election Commission has become Election Omission,’ says Congress amid reports of rift in the panel

3.15 pm: Aam Aadmi Party leader Saurabh Bhardwaj defends Delhi Chief Minister and party chief Arvind Kejriwal’s purported claim that BJP workers will kill him, ANI reports. “After becoming chief minister he has been attacked at least six times in the presence of police,” Bhardwaj says. “Even after such incidents no action was taken. We do not trust the Delhi Police.”

During an interview with Punjab Kesari, Kejriwal said that his security officer reports to the BJP. “I am very sure that BJP workers will use my security officer to kill me and pin the blame on my party’s workers,” Kejriwal purportedly said.

2.56 pm: The Election Commission says speculation about matter involving Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa should be avoided. “It needs to be clarified categorically and unambiguously that this is purely an internal matter of ECI and as such any speculation, innuendoes and insinuations in this regard should be eschewed,” the poll panel says. “It also needs to be mentioned that a meeting had already been scheduled on May 21 to discuss this and related matters.”

Read more here:

CEC Sunil Arora dismisses reports of rift within EC after Ashok Lavasa’s explosive letter

2.47 pm: BJP worker Anoop Singh Chandan lodges police complaint against Uttar Pradesh BJP ally Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party chief OP Rajbhar for allegedly abusing the saffron party’s workers at a public meeting in Ghazipur, ANI reports.

2.37 pm: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy urges Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) leaders to refrain from making controversial comments as it could mar the Opposition’s efforts to defeat the BJP. “We are on the verge of formation of a new government at the Centre,” Kumaraswamy says. “At this juncture, where all efforts are being made to form a non-BJP government at the Centre, the contradictory statements by leaders of coalition partners Congress-JDS may mar such efforts.”

2.20 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu meets Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar in Delhi, ANI reports.

1.08 pm: Arora says reports on Ashok Lavasa opting out of meetings were “unsavoury and avoidable controversy” on the internal functioning of the poll panel on its handling of the Model Code of Conduct, reports ANI.

1.01 pm: Arora says it was “unanimously decided” in the last meeting of the Election Commission on May 14 that some groups shall be formed to deliberate the concerns that arose during the course of the elections, according to ANI. “Out of the 13 issues/areas which were identified, Model Code of Conduct is one of them.”

12.58 pm: Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora responds to Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa’s purported letter to him. “The three members of ECI are not expected to be template or clones of each other, there have been so many times in the past when there has been a vast diversion of views as it can, and should be,” ANI quotes from Arora’s statement.

12.17 pm: Nobel Peace Prize recipient Kailash Satyarthi criticises BJP candidate Pragya Singh Thakur’s remarks on Nathuram Godse. “Godse assassinated Gandhi’s body,” Satyarthi says on Twitter. “But people such as Pragya are killing his soul and India’s along with values such as non-violence, peace and tolerance. Gandhi is above every party and politics. The BJP leadership must leave the desire for small benefits and immediately remove them from the party and follow raj dharm.”

11.23 am: Congress leader Sheila Dikshit responds to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s statement that “Muslims votes shifted to Congress” at the last moment. “Don’t know what is he trying to say,” Dikshit tells ANI. “Everyone has a right to vote whichever party he or she wants to vote. People of Delhi did not understand nor liked his governance model.”

10.38 am: Janata Dal (Secular) supremo HD Devegowda says his party supports the Congress. “We are with Congress, I don’t want to speak anything more,” he says, according to ANI. Devegowda sats the entire country will get a better when results are declared on May 23.

10.32 am: Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa recused himself since May 4 from meetings of the poll panel to discuss Model Code of Conduct violations, claiming his “minority decisions [were] going unrecorded”, reports NDTV.

10.20 am: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu arrives at Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s residence in Delhi, reports ANI.

9.53 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Kedarnath to offer prayers at the temple, reports ANI. The prime minister will visit the Badrinath shrine on Sunday, according to PTI.

9.34 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Uttarakhand to visit the Kedarnath temple, reports ANI.

9.27 am: The Election Commission announces re-polling at a polling booth (Chhatarkanali Prathamik Vidyalaya) in Bankura parliamentary constituency in West Bengal on May 19 from 7 am to 6 pm. Voting in the constituency was held on May 12.

9.13 am: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has said that he would welcome any party, including the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, to form an alliance against the Bharatiya Janata Party, once the election results are declared, reports Hindustan Times. Naidu is likely to meet Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Delhi and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati in Lucknow on Saturday.

8.32 am: The Makkal Needhi Maiam has sought the cancellation of the Sulur Assembly bye-election in Tamil Nadu scheduled on May 19 after authorities denied permission to party chief Kamal Hassan to campaign there, reports PTI.

The party, in a letter to the poll panel on Friday, said permission had been denied citing law-and-order problems. Haasan has been criticised by Hindutva activists over the past week for calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse “free India’s first extremist.

8.25 am: Congress General Secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi tells Hindustan Times that Narendra Modi’s remark that he will not be able to forgive the party’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot was a “cop-out”.

“You are the prime minister of the country, there is a question of somebody stating that the person who killed the founder of this country and created its democratic foundation, is a patriot,” says Gandhi. “It is not enough to say that in your heart, you will not forgive them. You are a political leader, you have to state your political position. What is your position on the killer of Mahatma Gandhi?”

8.20 am: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh tells The Indian Express that the Congress will sweep the elections. “The Akali Dal is divided into three, so is the Aam Aadmi Party,” he adds. “The Congress will be the biggest gainer. This division, coupled with the anger against the Akalis, our principal opposition, on the sacrilege issue will have a major impact on voting.”

8.10 am: The Congress candidate in Lucknow, Pramod Krishnam, has criticised the party’s Patna Sahib candidate Shatrughan Sinha of not following “party dharm”. Sinha has campaigned for his wife Poonam Sinha, who is the SP-BSP candidate in Lucknow, but not for Krishnam. “He’s taking politics lightly,” ANI quotes Krishnam as saying. “Politics is related to India’s future, there should be sensibility.”

8.06 am: Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal has said the Muslim vote “shifted to the Congress” at the last minute during the Lok Sabha elections in the national capital, reports The Indian Express. “Until 48 hours before polling, it seemed like all seven seats will come to AAP,” he says. “But at the last moment, the complete Muslim vote got shifted to Congress. We are trying to figure out what happened.”

8 am: Here are the top updates from Friday:

  • Bharatiya Janata Party National President Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a press briefing in New Delhi on Friday. This was the first press meet the prime minister addressed since he took over the post in May 2014.
  • Opposition leaders criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s press meet with BJP chief Amit Shah. Modi did not answer a single question posed to him, instead directing reporters to Shah.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Congress President Rahul Gandhi graded his party’s efforts in the Opposition as excellent. He claimed his party had successfully fulfilled its role as an Opposition party to protect the institutions of the country from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party.