Lok Sabha Election 2019 Updates: EC tells Madhya Pradesh CEO to submit report on Pragya Thakur's 'deshbhakt Godse' remark

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Lok Sabha Election 2019 Updates: EC tells Madhya Pradesh CEO to submit report on Pragya Thakur's 'deshbhakt Godse' remark
  • 21:14 (IST)

    Congress not averse to supporting regional party leader for PM post: Ghulam Nabi Azad
    The Congress is not averse to supporting any regional party leader for the Prime Minister's post even if it emerges as the single largest party, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Thursday. "My party high command has already made it clear that the Congress is not averse to making a prime minister from any regional party," Azad told reporters in Shimla.
     
    He was asked if the Congress will be ready to support any regional party leader for the prime minister's post even if it emerges as the largest party in a hung Parliament.
     
    Speaking in the same vein in Patna on Wednesday, Azad had said the Congress will not make it an issue if the prime minister post is not offered to it. His remarks assume significance as the Congress has been asserting that it would be the fulcrum of any non-NDA government, which was seen as its claim for the PM's post and had led some major regional parties to maintain a distance from it.
     
     
    PTI

  • 21:00 (IST)

    Chandrababu Naidu writes to EC over repolling order for Chandragiri Assembly seat and Chittoor LS seat

    Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu writes to EC over its decision to order re-polling at 5 polling stations of Chandragiri Assembly constituency and Chittoor Lok Sabha constituency. In his letter, he strongly opposed "the partial, one-sided, and undemocratic motivated actions of the EC."

  • 20:56 (IST)

    Mamata's padyatra ends in south Kolkata

    Mamata Banerjee's rally reached Kalighat at her residence, after which it came to an end.

    By SS Parveen/101Reporters

  • 20:46 (IST)

    WATCH | People join Mamata's march with lit candles, black flags to protests Vidyasagar statue vandalism

    As the padyatra crosses Harish Mukherjee Road in front of Abhishek Banerjee's (Mamata's nephew) house, people join the rally with black flags and candles to demonstrate their protest against the 14 May violence at Vidyasagar College where Vidyasagar's statue was broken during clashes.

    By SS Parveen/101Reporters

  • 20:41 (IST)

    EC announces deployment of central security forces for last phase in Bengal

    The Election Commission declared the number of security personnel deployed for the seventh phase of election. 

    While 34 companies of central forces will be deployed for strong rooms, the following is the area-wise allotment of  central forces.

    - Kolkata - 147 companies
    - Barrackpore - 55 companies
    - Barrackpore - 41 companies
    - Baruipur - 102 companies
    - Bashirhat - 21 companies
    - Bidhan Nagar - 27 companies 
    - Diamond Harbour - 81 companies
    - Sunderban - 40 companies

    By SS Parveen/101Reporters

  • 20:33 (IST)

    EC seeks report on Pragya Thakur's 'deshbhakt Godse' remark by tomorrow

    The Election Commission has sought factual report from Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer by Friday in the matter of Pragya Singh Thakur's statement, "Nathuram Godse was, is and will remain a 'deshbhakt'".

  • 20:24 (IST)

    Rahul Gandhi holds roadshow with Shatrughan Sinha in Bihar

  • 20:21 (IST)

    Mamata Banerjee extends padyatra

    Mamata Banerjee decided to extend the padyatra and adds another route to it as she reaches Bhawanipore. Bhawanipore comes under South Kolkata Constituency. Mamata is sitting MLA from Bhawanipore Assembly constituency.

    Input by SS Parveen/101Reporters

  • 19:53 (IST)

    Amit Shah in Uttar Pradesh latest updates

    BJP chief holds roadshow in Gorakhpur

  • 19:51 (IST)

    Pragya Thakur speaks on row over Godse remark

    After her 'deshbhakt' remark for Godse sparked a controversy on Thursday, Pragya Thakur said, "I am committed to the stand of the BJP. I am a worker of my party, and the limit set my party is my own." 

  • 19:43 (IST)

     Amid row over Bengal campaigning ban, EC removes two state poll officials

    The Election Commission ordered that SDPO Diamond Harbour (West Bengal) Mithun Kumar Dey and Amherst Street office in-charge Kaushik Das have been relieved with immediate effect. "Both the officers shall not be given any election related posts," it said.

  • 19:37 (IST)

    Kolkata Police sets up SIT to probe Vidyasagar status vandalism, says report

    India Today reported that the Kolkata Police has set up an SIT to investigate the vandalism of a Vidyasagar statue in Kolkata on Tuesday during Amit Shah's roadshow. The SIT will be headed by Kolkata police deputy commissioner.

  • 19:29 (IST)

    Narendra Modi in West Bengal latest updates

    Modi claims youth being jailed in Bengal for chanting 'Jai Maa Kaali', 'Jai Shri Ram'

    In Dum Dum, Narendra Modi said, "The youth in Bengal are being put behind bars for chanting 'Jai Maa Kaali' and 'Jai Shri Ram'. For sharing a meme, our daughters are being sent to jail. This won't be tolerated any more. The intruders will be held accountable when the Modi government is formed once again on 23 May." His statement comes against the backdrop of a BJYM activist being arrested for sharing a meme of Mamata Banerjee.

  • 19:22 (IST)

    Second leg of Mamata's Kolkata march begins from Ballygunge Phari

    Mamata Banerjee is walking with state power minister Sovhandeb Chatterjee. MLC Debashis Kumar, South Kolkata candidate Mala Roy, and Jadavpur candidate Mimi Chakrabarty are also at the march. For security reasons, the route of the padyatra has been cleared of pedestrians. A large number of people are waiting to catch a glimpse of the chief minister by the roadside.

    By SS Parveen/101Reporters

  • 19:16 (IST)

    Narendra Modi in West Bengal latest updates
    PM slams Mamata for remarks against central security forces, EC

    Lashing out at Mamata Banerjee over her remarks against central security forces and the Election Commission, Narendra Modi said, "Why are you forgetting that the Left had created similar situation for you once upon a time and the constitutional bodies of the nation ensured a fair election in West Bengal. If these constitutional bodies and central forces weren't there, you would not have been chief minister today," he said.

  • 19:10 (IST)

    First part of Mamata's march ends at Gharihat

    The first part of Mamata Banerjee's padyatra has come to an end at Gharihat, with TMC supporters raising pro-Mamata and pro-TMC slogans. The West Bengal chief minister, who walked by foot so far from Thakur Pukur, moved into a car to reach Ballygunge Phari for the second leg of the padyatra.

    By SS Parveen/101Reporters

  • 19:07 (IST)

    Narendra Modi in West Bengal latest updates
    PM addresses final rally before end of campaigning in Bengal 

    In Dum Dum, at his last rally in West Bengal for the election season, Narendra Modi said, "This is my last public meeting in West Bengal in this election. Over the past 2-3 days, I got to interact with lakhs of people through my rallies. The support I receivedfrom every village and city is unforgettable."

  • 19:00 (IST)

    Few attendees at Mamata's march protest desecration of Vidyasagar's statue

    Few attendees at Mamata Banerjee's padyatra came wearing Vidyasagar's posters to protest Tuesday's desecration of the famous Bengali philosopher's bust at a college in Kolkata.

    By Puja Bhattacharjee/101Reporters

  • 18:56 (IST)

    EC announces repolling in Andhra Pradesh's Chandragiri Assembly seat and Chittoor LS seat

    Election Commission announced repolling for five five polling stations of Chandragiri Assembly seat and the Chittoor Lok Sabha seat of Andhra Pradesh on 19 May. The polls in the constituencies were held on 11 April.

  • 18:42 (IST)

    BJP launches campaign to send 10 lakh 'Jai Shri Ram' postcards to Mamata

    A massive campaign has been launched by Bengal BJP to send 10 lakh 'Jai Shri Ram' post cards to Mamata Banerjee. BJYM West Bengal is leading the campaign and preparing to send these postcards to 30B Harish Chatterjee Road at Mamata's Bhawanipore's residence.

    By A Ghose/101Reporters

  • 18:36 (IST)

    Mamata Banerjee, Mimi Chakraborty pass through Dhakuria

    By Puja Bhattacharjee/101Reporters

  • 18:33 (IST)

    WATCH | Women draped in TMC sarees take part in the rally

    By Puja Bhattacharjee/101Reporters

  • 18:26 (IST)

    WATCH | Mamata interacts with TMC's Jadavpur candidate Mimi Chakraborty during her padyatra

    The movement of the padyatra was stopped for a while when Mamata Banerjee interacted with Tollywood actress Mimi Chakraborty, who is the party TMC candidate from Jadavpur constituency. 

    By SS Parveen/101Reporters

  • 18:15 (IST)

    Mamata's march begins from Sukanta Setu

    Mamata Banerjee has started her padyatra from Sukanta Setu and is heading towards Jadavpur Bus Stand. TMC cadres have formed a human chain around her for security reasons.

    By SS Parveen/101Reporters

  • 18:13 (IST)

    Opposition parties meet EC over move to end Bengal campaigning by 10 pm on Thursday

    Opposition parties met the EC over its move to end election campaign in West Bengal 24 hours before the scheduled deadline. After the meeting, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters, "We did not receive a satisfactory response from the Election Commission."

  • 17:55 (IST)

    'Vande mataram', pro-Mamata slogans raised at Sukanta Setu

    Mamata Banerjee's rally is expected to start from 8B Bus Stand in Jadavpur in a while. The crowd is participating in heavy sloganeering, with slogans like 'Vande Mataram', 'Amar deshe bar bar, Mamata dir sarkar' (This country needs Mamatadir sarkar) being raised.

    By Puja Bhattacharjee/101Reporters

  • 17:43 (IST)

    Narendra Modi in West Bengal latest updates

    PM demands action against 'TMC goons' over Kolkata violence

    Addressing a rally in Mathurapur, Narendra Modi accused "TMC goons" of spreading violence in Kolkata during Amit Shah's rally on Tuesday. "They (TMC workers) vandalised statue of Vidyasagar. CCTV cameras were installed there (in Vidyasagar College). The state government is trying to remove evidence of the incident in the same way it erased for Narada and Sarada scams. I demand that strict action be taken," he said.

  • 17:33 (IST)

    Sadhvi Pragya tenders apology to Madhya Pradesh BJP president for calling Godse 'deshbhakt', claim reports

  • 17:20 (IST)

    Security beefed up at Sukanta Setu

    A thin layer of security can be seen at Sukanta Setu, which is the point of commencement of Mamata Banerjee's padyatra.

    Police personnel from Jadavpur Police Station, Patuli police station and Tala police station have been deployed along the padyatra route. On the way, there are other police stations like in Gariahat and Ballyguange that can respond to emergencies.

    By SS Parveen/101Reporters

  • 17:16 (IST)

    WATCH | Hundreds gather at Sukanta Setu ahead of Mamata's rally

    By SS Parveen/101Reporters

  • 17:14 (IST)

    TMC cadres create human chain around Mamata as she holds padyatra

    TMC cadres created a human chain around Mamata Banerjee as the West Bengal chief minister crossed Sakherbazar. People turned out on the streets in huge numbers on both sides of the road. Some supporters even tried to shake hands with the TMC leader, while few breached security layer to touch her feet. 

    By A Ghose/101Reporters

  • 16:55 (IST)

    EC totally biased, says Kejriwal on Bengal campaigning ban

    Arvind Kejriwal said that the Election Commission ordered that campaigning should end in West Bengal at 10 pm on Thursday to let Narendra Modi hold his two rallies. "It makes it clear that Election Commission is totally biased. It is very dangerous for the country," he said.

  • 16:51 (IST)

    Watch | Traffic comes to a standstill ahead of Mamata Banerjee's rally at Sukanta Setu in Kolkata. 

    By SS Parveen/101Reporters

  • 16:48 (IST)

    Rahul's Modilie screenshot 'fake': Oxford Dictionaries

    A day after Rahul Gandhi posted a screenshot from a website and claimed that 'Modilie' was a new entry in the English dictionary, Oxford Dictionaries tweeted that the image posted by the Congress president was fake. "We can confirm that the image showing the entry ‘Modilie’ is fake and does not exist in any of our Oxford Dictionaries," the dictionary brand said on Twitter.

    A search for 'Modilie' on the website revealed no results on the word. However, the screenshot posted by Rahul didn't have any mention of Oxford on the page, although its layout looked very similar to the one of Oxford Dictionaries' website.

  • 16:35 (IST)

    Preparations on at Jadavpur Sukanta Setu for Mamata's rally

    The preparations are underway at Jadavpur Sukanta Setu for Mamata Banerjee's rally. The TMC chief is expected to reach at the venue in sometime to start her third padayatra of the day.   

    By SS Parveen/101Reporters

  • 16:32 (IST)

    Mamata holds padyatra in Kolkata ahead of her rally at 6 pm

    Mamata Banerjee has started her padayatra from Joka bus stand and now it will go through Thakurpur and Behala, till Taratala. Her rally is 8.5-kilometre long. The traffic at Behala has right now come to a standstill.

    By A Ghose/101Reporters

  • 16:21 (IST)

    'Glorifying Godse is sedition': Digvijaya Singh on Bhopal rival Pragya's remark

    Congress' Bhopal candidate Digvijaya Singh lashed out at BJP's Pragya Thakur over her 'deshbhakt' remark on Godse. "Modi ji, Amit Shah ji and the state BJP should give their statements and apologise to the nation (for Pragya's remark). I condemn this statement. Nathuram Godse was a killer; glorifying him is not patriotism, it is sedition," he said.

  • 16:16 (IST)

    Rahul Gandhi will play central role in government formation: Tejashwi Yadav

    A coalition of progressive parties will come together to form the next government and Congress president Rahul Gandhi will play a "central role" in the formation of the new dispensation, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said on Thursday.

    Asserting that the BJP has failed to deliver on its slogans, including 'achche din', 'kala dhan vapsi (return of black money)' and 'beti bachao beti padhao', he alleged that the party has intensified its "hate-filled politics" to avoid being questioned on its promises.
     
    Yadav, whose Rashtriya Janata Dal is fighting the polls in Bihar in alliance with the Congress, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, Hindustan Awam Morcha and Vikasshil Insan Party, also claimed the 'mahagathbandhan' will sweep the polls in the state.
     
    PTI

  • 16:14 (IST)

    Multi-party delegation to meet EC at 4.30 pm, reports News18

  • 16:12 (IST)

    Sunny Deol campaigns in Amritsar

     BJP's Gurdaspur candidate Sunny Deol is campaigning in Amritsar. All 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab will go to polls in the last phase on 19 May.

  • 16:04 (IST)

    Congress says Pragya committed 'unpardonable sin' by calling Godse 'deshbhakt'

    At a press conference, Congress communications in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said, " India's soul is under attack by successors of Godse, the BJP ruling dispensation.. BJP leaders are describing the murderer of father of the nation as a true nationalist, while declaring people like Hemant Karkare as anti nationalist. 

    "The favourite of Modiji-Amit Shah, Pragya Thakur, committed the unpardonable sin of calling Godse as true anationalist. BJP leaders are deliberately attacking the thought, the entire way of life, as also the teachings of Gandhi. This is an insult to the Indian way of life, that lives in Gandhian soul. This cannot be pardoned. The truth is, insulting India's martyrs and denegrating them has become culture of BJP. Thakur recently described Karkare as anti-national. Yet Modiji did not withdraw her candidature but proceeded to defend her through TV interviews."

  • 15:58 (IST)

    BJP distances itself from Pragya Thakur's remark on Godse

    BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said at a press conference that BJP did not agree with Pragya Thakur's statement. "We condemn it. The party will ask her for clarification. She should apologise publicly for this statement," he said.

  • 15:45 (IST)

    TMC election campaign latest updates

    WATCH | Mamata asks crowd to chant 'chowkidar chor hai'

    At a rally in Diamond Harbour, Mamata Banerjee asked the attendees to chant 'chowkidar chor hai'. The slogan has being used by Congress and particularly party chief Rahul Gandhi to campaign against 'chowkidar' Narendra Modi.

  • 15:38 (IST)

    Omar Abdullah backs Mamata after EC cuts short Bengal campaigning

    A day after EC announced the curtailment of campaigining in West Bengal, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted, "The BJP can team up with the EC in West Bengal. They can have a tailor made campaign designed to fragment and polarise the electorate. They can have all their model code violations overlooked. None of it will matter, because on the 23 May Mamata didi will sweep West Bengal."

  • 15:33 (IST)

    Bengal BJP to distribute 10 lakh postcards for people to send 'Jai Shri Ram' to Mamata

    Bengal BJP announced that it will distribute 10 lakh post cards on Thursday so that people can send a hearty “Jai Shri Ram” and a personalised message to Mamata Banerjee. It said, "You can get the postcards from your nearest post office and send your message to her address."

    By A Ghose/101Reporters

  • 15:20 (IST)

    MK Stalin criticises EC's decision to curtail campaigning in West Bengal

    DM chief MK Stalin said that the Election Commission has different rules for the ruling party, making a reference to the BJP, and the Opposition. In a first, the poll body invoked Article 324 in the state following violence in Kolkata during BJP chief Amit shah's road show on Tuesday.

  • 15:05 (IST)

    Amit Shah in Ballia latest updates

    BJP chief says terrorists like Zakir Naik are waiting for Congress govt to return

    Speaking at Ballia in Uttar Pradesh, BJP chief Amit Shah said the Modi government had made India unsafe for terrorists and those like Zakir Naik now no longer consider it a safe haven. "Zakir Naik has said he is scared to return to India because of Narendra Modi. When asked when he would like to return to India, he said, when the Congress government comes to power on 23 May," Shah said.

  • 14:55 (IST)

    Modi to visit Kedarnath Temple a day before 19 May polls

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit the Kedarnath Temple on 18 May, a day before the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections. Uttrakhand State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) has set up wireless and telecommunication systems and extra security has been deployed in the region. Tripti Bhatt, Commandant SDRF has directed all officials in the Kedarnath valley to maintain vigil in view of the prime minister's visit to the temple, reported ANI.

  • 14:50 (IST)

    BJP election campaign latest updates

    Public engagement in Ganga Sagar called off due to threats by TMC goons, alleges Swapan Dasgupta

    BJP sympathiser and Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta tweeted on Thursday that his "last public engagement" of the 2019 election campaign, at West Bengal's Ganga Sagar, had to allegedly be called off because TMC goons had threatened organisers.

  • 14:39 (IST)

    BJP election campaign latest update

    Pragya Singh calls Nathuram Godse a patriot

    Asked to react to Kamal Haasan's remark on Nathuram Godse, BJP's candidate for Bhopal, Pragya Singh Thakur, said on Thursday that Godse, who killed Mahatma Gandhi was a patriot, is a patriot and will remain a patriot. "People calling him a terrorist should look within and will be given a befitting reply in this election," she said.

    Pragya Singh is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case and had earlier said late Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare had been cursed to death in the 26/11 terrorist attack by her. 


Lok Sabha Election 2019 LATEST Updates: The Election Commission has sought factual report from Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer by Friday in the matter of Pragya Singh Thakur's statement, "Nathuram Godse was, is and will remain a 'deshbhakt'".

The Election Commission ordered that SDPO Diamond Harbour (West Bengal) Mithun Kumar Dey and Amherst Street office in-charge Kaushik Das have been relieved with immediate effect. "Both the officers shall not be given any election related posts," it said.

Lashing out at Mamata Banerjee over her remarks against central security forces and the Election Commission, Narendra Modi said, "Why are you forgetting that the Left had created similar situation for you once upon a time and the constitutional bodies of the nation ensured a fair election in West Bengal. If these constitutional bodies and central forces weren't there, you would not have been chief minister today."

As Mamata Banerjee held her padyatra along an 8.5 kilometre stretch in Kolkata, hundreds joined the streets to catch a glimpse of the West Bengal chief minister just hours before the end of campaigning the state.

Opposition parties met the EC over its move to end election campaign in West Bengal 24 hours before the scheduled deadline. After the meeting, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters, "We did not receive a satisfactory response from the Election Commission."

In West Bengal's Mathurapur, Narendra Modi accused "TMC goons" of spreading violence during Amit Shah's Kolkata roadshow and demanded strict action against them. Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee started her padayatra from Joka bus stand and now it will go through Thakurpur and Behala, till Taratala. Her rally is 8.5-kilometre long. The traffic at Behala has right now come to a standstill.

Congress' Bhopal candidate Digvijaya Singh lashed out at BJP's Pragya Thakur over her 'deshbhakt' remark on Godse. "Modi ji, Amit Shah ji and the state BJP should give their statements and apologise to the nation (for Pragya's remark). I condemn this statement. Nathuram Godse was a killer; glorifying him is not patriotism, it is sedition," he said.

BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said at a press conference that BJP did not agree with Pragya Thakur's statement. "We condemn it. The party will ask her for clarification. She should apologise publicly for this statement," he said. Meanwhile, Congress called her remark was "an unpardonable sin".

Speaking at Ballia in Uttar Pradesh, BJP chief Amit Shah said the Modi government had made India unsafe for terrorists and those like Zakir Naik now no longer consider it a safe haven. "Zakir Naik has said he is scared to return to India because of Narendra Modi. When asked when he would like to return to India, he said, when the Congress government comes to power on 23 May," Shah said.

Asked to react to Kamal Haasan's remark on Nathuram Godse, BJP's candidate for Bhopal, Pragya Singh Thakur, said on Thursday that Godse, who killed Mahatma Gandhi was a patriot, is a patriot and will remain a patriot. "People calling him a terrorist should look within and will be given a befitting reply in this election," she said. Pragya Singh is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case and had earlier said late Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare had been cursed to death in the 26/11 terrorist attack by her.

At his final Lok Sabha election campaign rally in Mirzapur of Uttar Pradesh, Narendra Modi predicted a 300-seat victory for the BJP this election, "because Bengal too will be added to our seat count." Repeating his old anecdote of washing cups and plates as a chaiwala, he asked for votes for the BJP's ally in the state, Apna Dal (Sonelal), whose election symbol is a cup and plate. Modi also vowed to make Dr Sonelal Patel's vision a reality in Uttar Pradesh. Patel's daughter Anupriya is the head and founder of the AD(S).

Making no bones about the effects of Election Commission's enforcement of Article 324 curtailing campaigns in Bengal, Mamata Banerjee said at her Mathurapur rally on Thursday that she was sorry to drag people out to the rally venue in the afternoon heat but had no choice because of the clamp down "which affected mostly her campaigns." The gloves were well and truly off as Mamata hit out at Modi's promise of a Vidyasagar statue with the retort that Bengal does not need his Vidyasagar statue. "Bengal will not take your alms, give back 200 years of our heritage," she said.

In what is certainly a rare show of unity in an election season that has seen efforts on a united front constantly thwarted, the Congress (in a press conference held by Randeep Surjewala), SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati, CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu questioned the Election Commission's decision to curtail poll campaigns in West Bengal and more importantly, whether Article 324 was to be enforced after a 24 hour delay to accommodate the two rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that were already scheduled in the state.

At his second rally of the day at Chandauli, Narendra Modi amped up the charge against the Opposition alliance, which he often calls 'mahamilavati'. He said while they were initially hell bent upon destroying Modi and had "posed for the camera holding each others' hands", they now spread only words of fear and hatred. Modi also went back to one of his familiar refrains this election season, and asked how Congress and the other parties in the Opposition could manage to question the surgical strikes.

In what signifies a distinct coming together of the Opposition for the first time this election, Mamata Banerjee thanked the likes of BSP chief Mayawati, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and the Congress for support in criticising the Election Commission over its invocation of Article 324 in West Bengal, curtailing campaigns. A delegation of the BJP comprising senior leaders like Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Prakash Javadekar knocked on the Election Commission's doors on Thursday, asking that "TMC goons and history-sheeters" be put into preventive detention for the 19 May polls on Sunday.

Speaking at his first rally of the day at Uttar Pradesh's Mau, Narendra Modi promised a "grand statue" of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar at the same spot where it was brought down on Tuesday, while at the same time blaming the TMC for the violence at Amit Shah's roadshow in Kolkata on the day. "We saw hooliganism by TMC workers again during Bhai Amit Shah's roadshow in Kolkata, they vandalized Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's statue. We are committed to Vidyasagar's vision and will install his grand statue at the same spot," Modi said.

After meeting the Alwar gangrape survivor with Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi refused to politicise the issues and said he would not comment on Narendra Modi's charge that the Congress government had sought to hush up the issue as the polls were on. "Soon after I heard about the incident I spoke to Ashok Gehlot Ji. This is not a political issue for me. I met the victim's family and they have sought justice which will be done. Action will be taken against culprits," Rahul said.

Congress came down heavily on the Election Commission in a press conference addressed by party communications in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala on Thursday. "Had the Model Code of Conduct now become the Modi Code of Misconduct?" Surjewala asked. He also raised questions on the poll panel's neutrality, questioning the Election Commission's crackdown on campaigning in Bengal and asked how Narendra Modi's two rallies could be allowed in the state on Thursday. Surjewala called the enforcement of Article 324 a 'parting gift' by the Election Commission to the Narendra Modi government.

 Stressing that the Election Commission's clamp down of Article 324 has "created a fear psychosis by admitting the poll panel's own inability to hold a free and fair poll", Congress in a press conference on Thursday questioned why the panel delayed the curtailing of campaigns by 24 hours in Bengal. "Was it done so that Narendra Modi could hold his rallies in Bengal on Thursday?" asked Randeep Surjewala, citing how the panel was reduced to a "toothless tiger" even when it came to stopping the streaming of NaMo TV.

Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad has said that the aim of the party is to defeat the NDA conglomerate and not to fight for the prime minister's post. "We have already made our stand clear. If a consensus is made in the favour of Congress, then party will take the leadership but our aim has always been that NDA govt shouldn't come. We will go with the unanimous decision," Azad said on Wednesday. Until now, Congress has projected chief Rahul Gandhi as a prime ministerial candidate throughout the election.

The Election Commission's order invoking Article 324 in West Bengal has made Thursday the last day of campaigning in the state, leading both the BJP and TMC to concentrate last-minute campaign efforts on a turf which has seen violence throughout the Lok Sabha election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to hold two rallies in the state – at Mathurapur and Laxmikantpur.  TMC chief and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has two public rallies, at Mathurapur and Diamond Harbour, and two roadshows, at Behala and Kolkata, scheduled on Thursday.

Modi will be travelling to the state after three rallies in Mau, Chandauli and Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh.  Meanwhile, BJP's South Kolkata candidate Chandra Bose will garland a statue of Vidyasagar with a lotus garland.

Attacking the Election Commission of India for curtailing the campaigning for the last phase of polls in West Bengal, Mamata had on Wednesday said it is an "unprecedented,
unconstitutional and unethical gift" to Modi and BJP president Amit Shah by the poll panel.

Banerjee said she had never seen this type of EC which is "biased and full of RSS people". "There is no such law and order problem in West Bengal that Article 324 can be clamped. It is unprecedented, unconstitutional, unfair, unethical and politically biased decision" against which the state will move the Supreme Court, she said.

"Mr EC has given a gift to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah (by invoking Article 324) in West Bengal for vandalising the statue of Vidyasagar," she claimed at a press conference held at her Kalighat residence.

Kolkata witnessed widespread violence during BJP president Amit Shah's massive road show Tuesday. A bust of 19th century Bengali icon Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was vandalised during the violence. No violence had taken place during any other rally of Modi or Shah in the state earlier, she said and asked, "So where is the lawlessness?"

"The ECI is taking all the decisions at the behsest of the BJP. I have never seen this type of ECI ever. I think all the RSS people have been included in the ECI. The ECI is biased," she alleged.

In the first such action in India's electoral history, the EC on Wednesday invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to curtail the campaigning for the last phase of the election on 19 May in the wake of violence between BJP and Trinamool Congress workers in Kolkata on Tuesday.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will visit the family of the 19-year-old gangrape survivor in Rajasthan's Alwar on Thursday. The visit, originally scheduled on Wednesday, had to postpone his visit as his chopper could not land in the area due to bad weather. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot, AICC general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan Avinash Pande and deputy chief minister and PCC president Sachin Pilot were to accompany Rahul.

The 26 April incident had provoked anger and protests across the state drawn attacks on the Congress government by Modi as well as BSP chief Mayawati.

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Updated Date: May 16, 2019 21:21:34 IST