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

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on Tuesday met leaders of National Democratic Alliance allies and ministers to “thank them for their service to the nation”.  
  • Rashtriya Lok Samta Party chief and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha on Tuesday said the people of Bihar and his party’s allies in the Opposition alliance should protect votes even if they have to pick up arms to do so, ABP News reported. He was addressing a press conference in Patna after Opposition parties alleged attempts were being made to manipulate Lok Sabha election results to favour the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.  
  • The Bahujan Samaj Party on Tuesday suspended its senior leader and former Uttar Pradesh minister Ramvir Upadhyay for “anti-party activities”, PTI reported. He has also been removed as the party’s chief whip in the state Assembly, said party General Secretary Mewalal Gautam.  
  •  The Election Commission of India decided on Tuesday that dissenting views in cases of Model Code of Conduct violations would not be made public, PTI reported. The commission said dissent notes will only be included in internal files, which has been the practice, according to The Hindu.  

11 pm: Odisha BJP state unit lodges complaint with chief electoral officer alleging a discrepancy between the number of postal ballots issued against the total number of government employees on election duty, ANI reports.

10.59 pm: Rajnath Singh says thirty-six allies were present at the NDA leaders dinner in New Delhi. “Three NDA allies who were not present today have given their support in writing,” he says.

10.52 pm: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh says all National Democratic Alliance allies support Modi, reports say. “The Prime Minister said that the NDA has become an organic entity,” Singh says. “NDA has now become a strong pillar for completing regional aspirations.”

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PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah thank allies and Union ministers for their ‘service to the nation’

7.20 pm: BJP and its NDA allies will meet tonight at Ashoka Hotel in Delhi, Firstpost reports.

7.05 pm: “When they [opposition parties] win, as they did in state polls recently, EVMs are trustworthy,” BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao says, according to PTI. “But when they lose, they become questionable. Their selective trust in the EVMs is hypocritical and mischievous. Their blatant effort at rubbishing the predicted pro-BJP mandate is an insult to the Indian democracy. The Opposition parties look very small not in their defeat, but in their condemnable conduct.”

7 pm: The BJP condemns Opposition parties for questioning the credibility of Electronic Voting Machines, PTI reports. “EVM is good when Mamata Banerjee became West Bengal chief minister twice and Amarinder Singh became Punjab chief minister,” BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad says. “If they win, EVM is good. But when there is expectation that we will win because people of this country want Narendra Modi to be prime minister again, then EVM is unreliable.”

Prasad adds that opposition parties must “humbly accept their defeat with grace”.

6.47 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party Chief N Chandrababu Naidu will meet Janata Dal (Secular) leaders HD Deve Gowda and HD Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru today.

5.38 pm: The Union Council of Ministers meeting is underway, ANI reports.

5.28 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the BJP headquarters for the meeting of the Union Council of Ministers.

4.41 pm: “We are asking the Election Commission to respect mandate of people,” Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu says after meeting EC officials, according to News18. “It cannot be manipulated.”

4.29 pm: Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi says the Opposition has been raising similar matters for the last month-and-a-half. “We asked EC why have they not responded,” Singhvi says, according to ANI. “Strangely, EC heard us for almost an hour and they assured us they’ll meet again tomorrow morning to consider primarily these two issues.”

4.26 pm: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Union ministers Maneka Gandhi and VK Singh reach the BJP office for a meeting scheduled for 5 pm.

4.20 pm: The Election Commission has called the Opposition parties again on Wednesday morning, says Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, according to News18.

4.05 pm: Twenty-two Opposition parties submit a memorandum to the Election Commission. They request the EC to verify the VVPAT slips of five random polling stations before votes are counted and not after the last round of counting, ANI reports. “The opposition leaders have also demanded that if any discrepancy is found anywhere during the VVPAT verification, 100% counting of paper slips of VVPATs of all polling stations of that assembly segment should be done,” according to the memorandum, cited by ANI

3.50 pm: The Election Commission says the minority opinion in connection with Model Code of Conduct violations will not be made a part of final orders but will be included in internal files, which is the current practice, The Hindu reports.

“In the meeting of the Election Commission held today, i.e, 21.5.2019, regarding the issue of MCC [Model Code of Conduct], it was interalia decided that proceedings of the Commission meeting would be drawn including the views of all the Commission Members,” the Election Commission says. “Thereafter, formal instructions to this effect would be issued in consonance with extant laws/rules, etc.”

“Status quo will be maintained. Dissent will not be made public but would form part of EC records,” an official tells PTI.

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Dissenting views in poll code violation cases won’t be made public, says Election Commission

3.33 pm: “The aspersions in clips being used in media merely pertain to the storage or movement of Reserve unused EVMs,” the Election Commission adds. “However any case of lapse even in handling of Reserve EVMs is thoroughly investigated and disciplinary action taken against the officers responsible.”

The poll body adds that an EVM Control Room will begin functioning from 11 am on Wednesday to handle EVM-related complaints till votes are counted. The number is: 01123052123.

3.30 pm: “After the close of polls, all polled EVMs and VVPATs are brought under security cover to the designated strongrooms, which is sealed with double locks, in the presence of the candidates and in the presence of Observers of the Election Commission,” the poll panel says. “The entire process of storage and sealing of the strongroom is covered under videography. Continuous CCTV coverage is done till completion of counting. Each strongroom is guarded with round-the-clock security by Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). Further, the candidates or their designated agents remain present at the strongroom for 24X7 vigil at all times.”

On the counting day, the strongrooms are opened in the presence of the candidates or their agents and Observer under videography, the Election Commission says, adding that the counting agents are shown the address tags, seals and serial number of the EVMs before the counting commences to ensure the authenticity of the machines.

3.25 pm: The Election Commission says all reports of “alleged movement of EVMs, purportedly to replace the polled EVMs in the strongrooms” are “absolutely false and factually incorrect”. “The visuals seen viral on media do not pertain to any EVMs used during the polls,” the poll panel says in a statement.

3.20 pm: Former President Pranab Mukherjee says he is “concerned at reports of alleged tampering of voters’ verdict”. The statement came a day after he praised the Election Commission for conducting the Lok Sabha polls in a “perfect” manner.

“There can be no room for speculations that challenge the very basic of our democracy. People’s mandate is sacrosanct and has to be above any iota of reasonable doubt,” the former prime minister says.

He adds: “The onus of ensuring institutional integrity in this case lies with the Election Commission of India. They must do so and put all speculations to rest.”

The Election Commission has dismissed claims by Opposition parties that electronic voting machines are being moved around in the days ahead of the counting of votes. It also rejected allegations of discrepancies at the strong rooms where the EVMs have been kept prior to the election results on May 23.

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EVM tampering row: Pranab Mukherjee says onus is on EC to ensure institutional integrity

3.10 pm: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will attend a dinner hosted by BJP President Amit Shah for NDA leaders today, ANI reports.

3.05 pm: They will urge the Election Commission to tally VVPAT slips of the entire Assembly constituency if there is even one mismatch in the VVPAT samples picked for counting and EVMs, according to ANI.

3 pm: Opposition leaders reach the Election Commission to meet poll officials.

2.30 pm: The Opposition leaders will move the Election Commission to demand tallying the paper trail of votes with the electronic voting machines. “On VVPATs and the EVM tally, the EC is yet to come out with a procedure in case there is a mismatch,” CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury tells PTI. “Even if there is one mismatch in the VVPAT samples picked for counting and EVMs, to maintain the integrity of the electoral process, all VVPATs in that Assembly segment must be counted.”

1.57 pm: Around 500 masked men allegedly attack a polling team in Kurung Kumey district of Arunachal Pradesh. The attack took place on Monday when the team was on its way to the Nampe polling station, where a re-poll is scheduled on Tuesday.

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Arunachal Pradesh: Around 500 masked men allegedly attack polling team, steal EVMs

1.54 pm: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar says a party has its own stand even when in alliance. “There’s no contradiction,” he tells ANI. “We’ve always maintained Art 370 shouldn’t be scrapped, Uniform Civil Code shouldn’t be imposed, Ayodhya dispute should be resolved through mutual agreement/court’s intervention. We’ve maintained this since we first forged an alliance with BJP.”

1.53 pm: A meeting of Opposition leaders is under way at Delhi’s Constitution Club of India.

12.44 pm: Madhya Pradesh Congress meeting of party candidates under way in Bhopal.

12.34 pm: Sanjay Singh is confident that the exit polls, which predicted a comfortable win for the NDA, will be proved wrong, reports ANI. “I feel the gathbandhan will get more than 60 seats in UP,” he says. “BJP will be wiped off across the country. Exit polls will prove to be completely false, like it had happened before. Opposition will form a strong govt at the Centre.”

12.33 pm: AAP leader Sanjay Singh meets Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. “We met to discuss the strategy to be followed after that,” Singh tells ANI. “The first priority is to stop BJP, pair of Narendra Modi-Amit Shah & communal forces. This was also a courtesy call.”

12.25 pm: The Supreme Court refuses to entertain a plea challenging the appointment of two retired bureaucrats as special observer and central police observer in West Bengal for Lok Sabha polls, reports PTI. It, however, asks petitioner Ramu Mandi to approach the Calcutta High Court. Mandi had contested the Lok Sabha polls as an independent candidate from Barrackpore constituency in West Bengal.

12.15 pm: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara says blaming Dinesh Gundu Rao and Siddaramaiah if Congress loses is Baig’s choice. “It is his personal opinion, not party’s opinion or assessment,” he tells ANI.

12.13 pm: Baig alleges that Christians and Muslims have been used. “No seats were given to Christians and only one seat was given to Muslims in Karnataka, they were ignored,” he adds.

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Karnataka Congress’ Roshan Baig blames Siddaramaiah, KC Venugopal after exit polls predicts loss

12.11 pm: Congress leader Roshan Baig says Siddaramaiah and KC Venugopal will be responsible if the coalition government collapses in Karnataka. “KC Venugopal is a buffoon,” Baig tells ANI. “I feel sorry for my leader Rahul Gandhi ji. Buffoons like Venugopal, the arrogant attitude of Siddaramaiah & the flop show of Gundu Rao...The result is this.”

11.18 am: The Election Commission dismisses claims by Opposition parties that electronic voting machines are being moved around in the days following the polls. It also rejects allegations of discrepancies at the strongrooms where the EVMs have been kept prior to the election results on May 23.

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Election Commission calls Opposition claims of EVM movement, problems at strong rooms ‘baseless’

11.07 am: The CBI gives clean chit to Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav in disproportionate assets case, reports ANI. In its affidavit to the Supreme Court, the agency says no evidence was found against the Samajwadi Party leaders to register a regular against them.

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Disproportionate assets case: No evidence found against Mulayam Yadav, son Akhilesh, says CBI

11.05 am: The Supreme Court dismisses a plea seeking 100% VVPAT-EVM match, reports PTI. “We won’t entertain such pleas again and again,” says the court. The PIL was filed by an NGO Techno4All.

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‘This is nonsense’: SC dismisses plea seeking 100% VVPAT verification during counting of votes

11.03 am: Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar will attend the dinner hosted by BJP President Amit Shah for NDA allies in Delhi today, reports ANI.

10.13 am: The BJP spent the most on Google and Facebook advertisements during the polls, Facebook’s Ad Library Report says. While the BJP spent Rs 4.3 crore on Facebook ads, the Congress spent Rs 1.8 crore. On Twitter, however, the Congress spent Rs 9.4 lakh, and the BJP only Rs 1.5 lakh.

10.06 am: Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam party has filed a police complaint against Tamil Nadu Minister for Milk and Rural Development Rajenthra Bhalaji, for saying that Haasan’s tongue should be cut off, The News Minute reports. Bhalaji had made the remark after Haasan said last week that Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse was the first Hindu extremist.

10 am: Former President Pranab Mukherjee praises the poll panel for its “perfect handling” of the Lok Sabha elections, NDTV reports. “If we want to strengthen institutions, we have to keep in mind that institutions are serving well in this country, and if democracy has succeeded, it’s largely due to the perfect conduct of elections by all Election Commissioners starting from Sukumar Sen to the present Election Commissioners,” he says at a book launch.

“Institutions are fine, and these institutions are built over the years,” he adds. “I do believe only a bad workman quarrels with his tools. A good workman knows how to utilise these tools.”

9.48 am: Top BJP leaders, including Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah, will meet NDA allies over dinner, The Indian Express reports citing sources. Shah will also meet BJP ministers on Tuesday evening.

9.39 am: The BSE Sensex breaches its previous highest mark of 39,487 points to reach a high of 39,571 points, before sliding to 39,441 at this time. The rally in the markets can be attributed to exit polls predicting a clear NDA win. On Monday, the Sensex had surged over 1,421 points.

9.25 am: Narendra Modi tweets: “Tributes to former PM Rajiv Gandhi on his death anniversary.”

9.07 am: The Election Commission says that the poll held at polling station number 200 in the Kolkata Uttar Parliamentary constituency has been declared void, ANI reports. A re-election will be held on May 22 from 7 am to 6 pm.

8.54 am: Karnataka Congress leader Roshan Baig appeals to Muslims to “join hands with the BJP” if the need arises, PTI reports. “Well if NDA is coming back to power, I humbly appeal to Muslim brothers to learn to compromise with the situation,” he says, referring to the exit polls. Baig adds that the Congress gave only one ticket to a Muslim candidate in the Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka.

8.50 am: Some Opposition leaders have alleged that there are reports of electronic voting machines being moved at certain places. Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha tweets: “Is our worst fears coming true? What is the Election Commission doing?” Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav retweets a video of a purported attempt at booth capturing, and says the poll panel must respond as soon as possible.

8.47 am: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi, in an audio message, asks party workers not to be disheartened by exit polls. She also tells them to remain alert outside counting centres and strong rooms. Most exit polls have predicted a majority for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.

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Priyanka Gandhi asks Congress workers to ignore exit polls, remain alert outside counting centres

8.44 am: Opposition leaders will meet Election Commission officials on Tuesday to discuss tallying paper trail of votes, or VVPATs, with electronic voting machine figures.

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‘Opposition stands united,’ says Chandrababu Naidu after meeting Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata

8.41 am: Chandrababu Naidu and other Opposition leaders will hold a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday, ANI reports.

8.39 am: Here are the top updates from Monday:

  • Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu met his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on Monday. The meeting came a day after exit polls predicted a comfortable victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance. Naidu and other Opposition leaders will meet the Election Commission on Tuesday to discuss VVPATs.  
  • Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath agreed to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s demand for a floor test in the Assembly after the saffron party claimed that the Congress government was now in minority.
  • Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami dismissed exit poll predictions that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam would not do well in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He said there were similar predictions of him losing in the state Assembly elections of 2016, but he proved them wrong.   
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley criticised the Opposition for questioning the accuracy of exit polls. Jaitley said voters do not trust “Coalition of Rivals”, to elect a hung Parliament, nor do they believe in fake issues.
  • Bharatiya Janata Party leader and terror-accused Pragya Singh Thakur claimed that she was observing silence for three days as a mark of penance for her comments during campaigning for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. She contested the Lok Sabha elections from Bhopal constituency in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Shiv Sena mocked the Opposition for trying to form a grand alliance to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party out of power at the Centre following the Lok Sabha election results.  The Sena said in an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana that the country cannot afford a government that “crawls on many crutches”.