Lok Sabha Election 2019; pre-poll trends updates: BJP terms Congress-NC alliance in J&K 'eyewash', says grand old party has surrendered to 'pro-separatist' agenda

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Lok Sabha Election 2019 Tracker LATEST updates: The Jammu and Kashmir unit of BJP Wednesday alleged that the Congress had conceded to National Conference's (NC) pro-separatist agenda after the two parties announced a pre-poll alliance in the state.

In a sharp retort to BJP, which lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Nirav Modi's arrest in London, Priyanka Gandhi said," This is their achievement, who allowed him to leave the country?"

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with 25 lakh security guards across the country via audio bridge on Wednesday.

PTI quoted Pradipta Bhatacharya as saying, "Talks between Congress and Left Front in West Bengal failed due to Left Front's reluctance to forge a formal alliance."

 Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and NC patron Farooq Abdullah jointly told the media that there will be a "friendly contest" between the two parties on the Anantnag and Baramulla seats.

Farooq Abdullah announced the seat-sharing deal between Congress-National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir. "Jammu and Udhampur will be contested by Congress, I will contest from Srinagar. We are also discussing the Ladakh seat," said the NC chairman.

Priyanka Gandhi reacted shortly after BJP workers did a 'shuddhi' as she garlanded the statue of former Prime Minister Lal bahadur Shastri. She said, "It doesn't bother me, let them do what they want to do."

While interacting with students in Imphal, Rahul Gandhi took a pot shot at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his educational qualification. "We still have no access to prime minister's university degree. Nobody knows whether he went to a university or not."

Priyanka Gandhi visited the ancestral home of former Prime Minister Lal Bhahadur Shastri at Ramnagar, Varanasi.

The Congress General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh East garlanded the statue of Shastri at the ancestral home. She was accorded a warm welcome by party leaders upon reaching Varanasi.

After Priyanka left the ancestral home, BJP workers "purify" Shastri statue because the Congress general secretary had garlanded it.

Clashes broke out between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress workers at the rally of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress General Secretary of Uttar Pradesh East on Wednesday. She is currently on the last leg of her three-day Ganga Yatra at Assi Ghat, Uttar Pradesh.

In a latest development in Uttar Pradesh politics, Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) supremo Maywati said that she will not fight the Lok Sabha polls, which will be starting from 11 April.

Meanwhile Rahul Gandhi was addressing a public rally in Imphal. The Congress chief asserted that there will be no encroachment on North East. He said that the grand old party will fight to ensure that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill does not become a law.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hit back at Modi, who earlier wrote a blogpost criticising Congress' dynastic politics. She said "BJP has systematically attacked every institution in last 5 years including the media. PM should stop thinking people are fools and understand that they see through this. 

The Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party on Tuesday announced they would contest all 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra in alliance. Meanwhile, the CPM-led Left front announced candidates for 38 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal and said it will wait for Congress's response on an alliance in the state, before declaring nominees for the remaining constituencies.

At a press conference in New Delhi, AAP Delhi convenor Gopal Rai ruled out an alliance with Congress. He said that the AAP will contest on its own with the help of the people to ensure defeat of the BJP on all the seats of Delhi. He further said that party chief Arvind Kejriwal will start a campaign to demand Delhi statehood from 23 March.

Reports claim that Sharad Pawar is playing a mediator to bring together arch rivals Congress and Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi. After Pawar's intervention, Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit met with colleagues at her home to reconsider a tie-up with AAP - an idea that she has resisted vehemently so far.

Prime Minister on 31 March, will interact through video conference with people who have pledged their support to 'Main bhi Chowkidaar' movement, from 500 locations in the country.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday said at a Network 18 programme that if Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had been a capable leader then sister Priyanka Gandhi would not have had to enter politics.

"There has not been a single riot in the last two years since the BJP government came to power in the state," he also said.

In its election manifesto, released on Tuesday, the MK Stalin-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam said it will try to release all seven of the convicts incarcerated for the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The Congress has released its fifth list of 56 candidates for the Lok Sabha election, including 22 from Andhra Pradesh and 11 from West Bengal. The list, released late on Monday night, also included eight candidates from Telangana, six from Odisha, five from Assam and three from Uttar Pradesh. Former minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi's wife Deepa Dasmunshi has been fielded from Raiganj close on the heels of speculation that she was leaving for the BJP.

As many as seven Telugu Desam Party MLAs have defected to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi in Telangana. Another has said he will join TRS. Three more Congress MLAs, all veteran Congress leaders, could move to the TRS as well, reported News18. The Congress has alleged horse-trading by the TRS and has asked for a meeting with the Telangana governor.

The Congress has also demanded that Telangana come under President's rule, as they are in the risk of losing their key opposition leaders.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has released its third list of 36 candidates for the upcoming elections to the Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly. The election will be held on 11 April.

As the BJP readies its battle plan for the Lok Sabha elections, its first list of candidates is expected to be released on Tuesday, after the Central Election Committee of the party holds a meeting in the evening.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi will address an election rally at Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh and a Pradesh Congress meeting at the Manipur capital of Imphal on Tuesday. He will address a public meeting at the Indira Gandhi Park grounds in the Arunachal capital and will then hold a meeting with party leaders and workers at Hotel Donyi Polo Ashok. Later in the afternoon, he will travel to the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee office at Imphal, for another meeting with party officials.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Monday started her election campaign in eastern Uttar Pradesh as she visited the ghats of Ganga river in Varansi in the morning. She is set to sail from Prayagraj to Varanasi as Congress plans to connect with the Mallah, Kewat and Nishad communities of boatmen, fishermen and agriculturalists living along the river.

Priyanka said that Narendra Modi is travelling across the world, but he didn't come to his constituency. Did prime minister Modi come here, Priyanka asked the people as she stressed on her party's claim that the country and the constitution is in 'danger' under the BJP government.

BJP president Amit Shah is slated to head a BJP Core Committee meeting on Sunday to finalise the party's list of candidates for the Lok Sabha election from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Goa and Rajasthan. The ruling party is likely to release its first list of candidates on Monday. So far, main rival Congress has already released four lists of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha election, which begins from 11 April.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is expected to kickoff her campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from eastern Uttar Pradesh, Prayagraj and Varanasi, taking the river route to establish "direct contact" with people.

The Samajwadi Party on Saturday decided to field a sitting BJP MP from Allahabad Shyama Charan Gupta as its nominee from Banda Lok Sabha seat, PTI reported.

Gupta, a leading businessman-turned-politician, was elected to the Lok Sabha from Banda parliamentary constituency in 2004 on a Samajwadi Party tickey. He fought from Phulpur in the 2009 general election, losing to his Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) counterpart.

Senior BJP leader Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri's son, Manish Khanduri, joined the Congress on Saturday at a rally in Dehradun in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi.

Speculation is rife that the Congress might field Manish Khanduri from Pauri, a Lok Sabha seat held by his father.

The Goa Congress on Saturday wrote to state governor Mridula Sinha, and called on her to dismiss the BJP-led government in the state. The Congress alleged that the BJP is a"minority", and has lost the trust of the people under Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's rule.

It further stated that "any attempt to bring Goa under President's rule will be illegal and will be challenged."

Union Ministers Sushma Swaraj, Kiren Rijiju, and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Saturday evening arrived at the BJP headquarters for the party's Central Election Committee (CEC) meeting. According to ANI, the CEC is expected to deliberate on candidates for Bihar, Uttarakhand, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the Andaman and Nicobar islands, in its meeting today.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath on Saturday said if party colleague Digvijaya Singh wants to contest upcoming Lok Sabha polls, he should choose the "toughest seat" in the state.

"I have requested Digvijaya Singh that if he wants to contest Lok Sabha polls, then he should do so from the toughest seat. There are 2-3-4 seats from where we have not won elections since the last 30-35 years," Nath told reporters.

Congress functionaries said he may have been referring to Bhopal and Indore Lok Sabha seats, both of which have been held by the BJP since 1989. Congress sources said Nath is keen that Singh contest from Bhopal.

Former IAS officer Shah Faesal will launch his political outfit 'Jammu and Kashmir People's Movement' at a function in Rajbagh area of the city on Sunday. He said the function will be held at Gindun Ground in Rajbagh.

In a stream of criticism against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi during his rally in Dehradun said he will visit the families of the CRPF jawans who died in the Pulwama terror attack in February and slammed Modi for "filming for the National Geographic Channel at Corbett Park".

Rahul said, "I will be visiting the Pulwama martyrs' families today. When the terror attack took place, Congress party cancelled all political programmes and vowed to stand with our Armed Forces and the government."

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday during a rally in Uttarakhand's Dehradun slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale issue. Rahul said, "In Parliament, I questioned Mr. Modi on the Rafale scam. Why was Anil Ambani given the deal? Why did you steal the job opportunities from our youth? Mr. Narendra Modi could not meet my eyes."

Rahul's comments came soon after BJP leader BC Khanduri's son Manish quit the BJP and joined the Congress. He said, "Khanduriji was the Chairman of Parliament's Defence Committee. He was removed from the position by Narendra Modi, because he raised concerns in the Parliament on national security. There is no place for truth in BJP."

Senior BJP leader and former Uttarakhand chief minister BC Khanduri's son Manish Khanduri joined the Congress on Saturday at a rally in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi. Welcoming him into the party fold, Gandhi said him joining the Congress will strengthen the party.

Speculation is rife that the Congress might field Manish Khanduri from Pauri, a Lok Sabha seat held by his father. The former chief minister was removed last year as chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on defence.

Senior BJP leader and Allahabad MP Shyama Charan Gupta resigned on Saturday and joined Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP). He is set to contest the Lok Sabha election as an SP candidate from the Banda constituency in Uttar Pradesh.

Gupta is also likely to pose a challenge to the Congress in-charge for eastern Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. The Congress has not announced their candidate for the constituency, yet.

The BJP is likely to release its first list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls on Saturday, when its central election committee is scheduled to meet. The list will have the names of most of the candidates for the first phase of polling, which will be held on 11 April in 91 seats.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president Amit Shah and other top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders will attend the central election committee meeting.

Lok Sabha elections will begin on 11 April and continue for over a month till 19 May across seven phases, followed by counting of votes on 23 May, the Election Commission announced Sunday, kick-starting a mega electoral battle where the BJP will pitch for a re-election of the Modi government amid the Opposition's efforts for a united fight to unseat it.

The polling will be held on 11 April, 18 April, 23 April, 29 April, 6 May, 12 May and 19 May for 543 Lok Sabha seats across the country in which nearly 90 crore voters would be eligible to vote, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said. Assembly elections will also be held in Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Odisha simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls, the CEC said.

However, elections for Jammu and Kashmir assembly have been deferred, the EC said citing security reasons. The state has been under President's Rule after the ruling alliance between the BJP and Peoples Democratic Party fell apart last year.

Political parties and leaders have already began campaigning for the big finals, even as preparations for this very battle has been for the past two years when state elections were being touted as "semi-finals". Just like 2014, two candidates have surfaced as the face of this fight — Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi — the two opposing camps are rallying behind these two. However, there are other contenders to Rahul, like West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu.

Election Commission has officially opened the battlegrounds and in the coming days we will track campaign rallies, sloganeering, advertisements, social media and television debates — anything which is consequential for the upcoming polls — to make it easy to navigate through all the politicking  which is expected before 23 May.

Here are a few things to note after EC's date announcements:

  • All southern states will have voted by the third phase, 23 April.
  • But West Bengal (42 seats), Madhya Pradesh (29 seats), Bihar (40 seats) and, crucially, Uttar Pradesh (80 seats) vote over several phases that carry on until the very last day of voting, 19 May.
  • This means that the famous 'hawa', political chatter that suggests which way the wind is blowing, will continue to build until the very last date.

Mamata commenced her party's campaign for the 2014 parliamentary and 2016 assembly elections on International Women's Day, 8 March, and this time was no different. She led a padyatra (rally) in Kolkata on the occasion. The TMC, which is vying to play a major role in the formation of the next government at the Centre, has vowed to win all the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The party had won 34 seats in the 2014 general election. However, the BJP state leadership mocked TMC's decision to kick start its poll campaign on International Women's day.

Meanwhile, Rahul kicked off the Congress' poll campaign in Assam. The Congress scion attacked the BJP and the RSS, accusing them of "burning" every state in the region. "The BJP-RSS ideology is burning every state in the northeast. They are attacking your lifestyle, culture, language and history," he said. Gandhi exuded confidence that the Congress will come to power at the Centre and work towards protecting the identity of the region.

He has since addressed a rally in Karnataka's Haveri on 9 March.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi kick-started the BJP's Lok Sabha campaign in Madhya Pradesh with rallies on 15 and 16 February. Despite suffering a major loss in the 2018 Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh, the BJP is hopeful to serve a second term at the Centre. The prime minister has been making public appearances across the nation. He visited Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi, Kanpur and Ghaziabad cities on 8 March. He also addressed a rally in Greater Noida on 9 March.

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Updated Date: Mar 20, 2019 20:12:54 IST

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