Lok Sabha Elections 2019: A day after the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the dates of the upcoming polls, political parties across the country have pumped up the pace of their campaigning process. To begin with, on the North Eastern front, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has joined forces with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to fight the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. "After discussion, BJP and AGP have decided to work together in the coming Parliament election in Assam to defeat Congress," Ram Madhav, the BJP's incharge of Northeast said early on Wednesday.
On the Western side, Patidar leader Hardik Patel joined the Congress in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi. Priyanka Gandhi also gave her first election speech on Tuesday in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home turf, Gujarat. "Today what is happening to the country is painful. Your vote is a weapon," she said.
In Maharashtra, Sujay Vikhe Patil, the son of senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, joined the BJP on Tuesday. Welcoming him to the party, Devendra Fadnavis said BJP's parliamentary committee will recommend Patil's name for the Ahmednagar Lok Sabha seat.
In Bihar, intensive negotiations are on the cards for the opposition grand alliance as all the top leaders are scheduled to meet on Wednesday in New Delhi.
Follow the latest developments on the BusinessToday.In live blog:
6:52pm: Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that UPA will reserve 33 per cent vacancies in all central government jobs for women if his party is voted to power. Talking to reporters in Chennai, Gandhi reiterated support towards the long-overdue Women's Reservation Bill.
4:00pm: Congress General Secretary for UP (East) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Congress General Secretary for UP (West) Jyotiraditya Scindia are on their way to Meerut to meet Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar who is undergoing treatment at a hospital.
3:20pm: "I appeal to Sikhs, finally we are getting justice for 1984. Finally we are getting Kartarpur Sahab corridor, if you don't stand by PM and this government, I can assure that Congress and the Gandhi family will derail this on some pretext of talks and terror," said Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
3:10pm: Election Commission has called a meeting of Chief Election Officers (CEO) of states and all observers tomorrow in Delhi. Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora along with Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra and Ashok Lavasa will brief the observers.
2:57pm: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has urged Rahul Gandhi to come together for JJP-AAP-Congress alliance in Haryana. Kejriwal is hopeful of the alliance between these three parties winning all 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana, which will dent BJP's electoral progress at the national level.
2:29pm: "In connection with Rafale files, Sanjay Bhandari has been found to be involved in stealing documents from Defence Department and passing inforamtion to defence contractors. Relation between Sanjay Bhandari and Robert Vadra has been established in the London benami properties case," Smriti Irani said.
2:10pm: "The new facts which have come to the fore clearly establish a relationship between Rahul Gandhi and arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari. Hence, the nation has come to a conclusion that Rahul Gandhi's intervention in the defence preparedness of our country stems from his pursuit not only of individual politics but his personal commercial interests, his personal family interests," said Smriti Irani.
2:05pm: "Sanjay Bhandari, an arms dealer with close links to Robert Vadra is also under investigation for defence deals and his desperate desire to be a party to the ill-gotten fruits of corruption during UPA regime," said Smriti Irani.
1:55pm: "Reports have suggested that HL Pahwa was suitably financed and supported by CC Thampi. Investigation have found money trail between CC Thampi and HL Pawa amounting to Rs 54 crore. CC Thampi is a name that figures in probe with regard to not only a petroleum deal under UPA but also financial violation with regard to land transaction in Delhi-NCR amounting to Rs 280 crore. A relationship between CC Thampi and arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari is publicly known," said Smriti Irani during a press briefing.
1:45pm: "We have conveyed to the EC that Bengal's track record in free & fair election is very very deplorable. Recently, 100 people were killed during local body and gram panchayat polls," Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
1:27pm: "We've requested EC to take action against Rahul Gandhi for levelling unverified allegations against PM yesterday in Ahmedabad, when the Model Code of Conduct is already in effect," Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
1:15pm: "We have demanded that the state of West Bengal should be declared as super-sensitive state. We've also demanded that central forces should be deployed at all polling booths," said Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad after BJP delegation meeting with Election Commission in Delhi today.
12:50pm: Visuals of Rahul Gandhi being felicitated at Stella Maris College.
Tamil Nadu: Congress President Rahul Gandhi being felicitated at Stella Maris College in Chennai where he interacted with students today. pic.twitter.com/Mh5elZrpxW- ANI (@ANI) March 13, 2019
12:30pm: "Dr Umesh Jadhav will contest elections from Kalaburagi against Mallikarjun Kharge," said BS Yeddyurappa.
12:25pm: Rahul Gandhi said, "Government has every right to investigate every person. Law should apply to everybody equally, not selectively. PM has his name in government documents that say he is directly responsible for negotiating parallelly with Dassault on Rafale. Investigate everybody, be it Mr Vadra or PM."
12:21pm: "How many of you have had the opportunity to ask him 'Mr Prime Minister what do you think about education? What do you think about this? What do you think about that?' Why doesn't Prime Minister have the guts to stand in front of 3,000 women and be questioned by them?" asks the Congress President.
12:20pm: "How many times have you seen the Prime Minister of India standing in the middle of 3000 women like this?" asks Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi at Stella Maris College, Chennai: How many times have you seen the Prime Minister of India standing in the middle of 3000 women like this? How many times have you seen him standing here like this being open to any question from anybody? pic.twitter.com/NfMZATWNIP- ANI (@ANI) March 13, 2019
12:11pm: "There is currently an ideological battle going in India. It's sharply divided between two ideologies. One ideology is a unifying ideology which says that all people of the country should live together and shouldn't be dominated by one idea. he other ideology represented by the current government and PM where they believe that one idea should be imposed on our country. They have a particular view about role of women in our society, different languages and cultures are inferior to one centralising culture and idea," said Rahul Gandhi at Stella Maris College in Chennai.
12:08pm: Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP from Kakinada, Thota Venkata Narasimham and his wife Thota Vani joined YSRCP today in the presence of party chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
11:55am: "You are always setting outstanding records on the cricketing field but this time, do inspire the 130 crore people of India to set a new record of high voter turnout in the upcoming elections," said PM Modi to cricketers MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
You are always setting outstanding records on the cricketing field but this time, do inspire the 130 crore people of India to set a new record of high voter turnout in the upcoming elections.
When this happens, democracy will be the winner!- Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 13, 2019
11:50am: "Today, whatever is happening in the country is very sad. Hatred is being spread across the nation. Our institutions are being trampled," said Priyanka Gandhi during her maiden election speech. Read what she said at a rally in Gandhinagar.
11:42am: "The power of a vote is immense and we all need to improve awareness on its importance," says PM Modi as he asks Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar and Ayushmann Khurrana to urge followers to vote.
The power of a vote is immense and we all need to improve awareness on its importance.
Thoda Dum Lagaiye aur Voting ko Ek Superhit Katha banaiye.- Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 13, 2019
11:40am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi urges Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Karan Johar to ask their followers to vote.
Because...its all about loving your democracy (and strengthening it). :)- Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 13, 2019
11:32am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi arrives in Chennai.
Tamil Nadu: Congress President Rahul Gandhi arrives in Chennai. He will participate in multiple events, including an interaction with students, in the state today. pic.twitter.com/JgtvIekjrO- ANI (@ANI) March 13, 2019