Elections highlights: BJP-TMC blame game, Priyanka's Varanasi rally, & more

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra along with the party candidate Ajay Rai and Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Singh Baghel waves at the supporters during a roadshow for the Lok Sabha polls, in Varanasi Wednesday | Photo: PTI
With voting in over 480 Lok Sabha constituencies having concluded, focus has shifted to the seats heading for polling in the final phase of the Lok Sabha election, on May 19. Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed ralles in West Bengal's Basirhat and Diamond Harbour. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra held a roadshow in Varanasi, a constituency represented by Modi.

The Congress show of strength in the temple town comes nearly three weeks after Modi held his own roadshow there, a day before filing his nomination papers.

The Congress has fielded Ajay Rai against Modi, after much speculation that Priyanka Gandhi, who is in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh for the party, may herself take on Modi.

On Tuesday, BJP and TMC supporters fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive roadshow by Amit Shah, who escaped unhurt but was forced to cut short the jamboree and had to be escorted to safety by police. Parts of the city plunged into a welter of violence as his convoy was attacked with stones by alleged TMC supporters from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar College, triggering a clash between supporters of the two parties, officials said.

Furious BJP supporters retaliated and were seen exchanging blows with their TMC rivals outside the college entrance.

Here are the highlights of all election related events today:

7:36 PM IST In a big show of strength in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra started her roadshow here Wednesday evening.   Accompanied by Congress candidate for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat against Modi, Priyanka Gandhi began by garlanding the statue of Madan Mohan Malviya at the gates of the Banaras Hindu University. Read more

7:27 PM IST BJP chief Amit Shah Wednesday blamed West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress for violence during his roadshow in Kolkata and accused the Election Commission of "double standards" for remaining a "mute spectator" to rigging and violation of the poll code in the state.   He rejected TMC's allegation that BJP workers vandalised a bust of educationist and social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, claiming the regional party was behind it. Read more

4:55 PM IST All the surveys are giving BJP a full majority on its own, but Didi after seeing your frustration and the support from the people of Bengal, I'm saying that Bengal will help us win more than 300 seats, says PM Modi in West Bengal's Basirhat. (Source: ANI)

4:40 PM IST Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Wednesday invoked Ram Manohar Lohia to suggest that Narendra Modi is set to run the country for many more years because of his focus on providing toilets and fuel for the poor.   In an interview to PTI, the chief minister expressed confidence that the Bharatiya Janata Party will win 74 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in his state, three more than it bagged on its own in 2014. Read more

4:03 PM IST Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga,BJP: Nobody takes Derek O Brien seriously. I challenge him if he can prove that I was within 500 metres of the spot where violence broke out. I will leave politics if I am proved wrong or else he should leave politics if he fails to prove the charge pic.twitter.com/rNcT5HjlDz — ANI (@ANI) May 15, 2019

2:51 PM IST Derek O'Brien, TMC: We have two more pictures to show, this is to do with the elections, we have nothing personally against the Central forces, we have two startling pictures to expose what we have been saying that the Central forces are in cahoots with the BJP in Bengal. pic.twitter.com/6DoTspfSJQ — ANI (@ANI) May 15, 2019

2:51 PM IST #WATCH Derek O Brien,TMC: Anybody can come and do a procession, but what were the outsiders.....Who is this fellow Tejinder Bagga? Who is he? He was arrested, is he not the same guy who slapped somebody in Delhi? You have taken in your outsider goons pic.twitter.com/0JDca4y6G1 — ANI (@ANI) May 15, 2019

2:07 PM IST BJP youth wing activist Priyanka Sharma, who walked out of jail on Wednesday after being arrested for posting a morphed picture of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Facebook, said she would not apologise.   "I don't have any regrets. I have not done anything for which I will have to apologise," Sharma told a press conference at the BJP office.   She was released at 9.40 am from the Alipore jail after five days following a Supreme Court order.   The BJP activist alleged that she was harassed and tortured inside jail. "I was tortured in the jail. Even the jailer pushed me yesterday. I told them I am not a criminal that you are pushing me into the jail room like this," she said. "They behaved very rudely. The condition inside was very bad." Local BJP leaders and her mother were present outside the jail in south Kolkata when she was released.

1:06 PM IST West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and several top TMC leaders have changed their Facebook and Twitter display picture (DP) with photo of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar on Wednesday to protest the desecration of the bust of the noted reformer and key figure of the Bengal Renaissance.   Trinamool Congress's official profile on Twitter and Facebook was also changed with a picture of Vidyasagar.   Banerjee is scheduled to take out a protest rally on Wednesday to protest the smashing of the bust of the social reformer by alleged BJP activists in north Kolkata on Tuesday.   Launching a scathing attack on BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday, Banerjee had said, "What does Amit Shah think of himself? Is he above everything? Is he God that no one can protest against him?"   Banerjee said this after supporters of the BJP and the TMC fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a roadshow by Shah.

1:06 PM IST In the battle to redeem lost pride in the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat, popular Bhojpuri actor and BJP candidate Ravi Kishan is playing second fiddle as Yogi Adityanath takes centre stage in the electoral fight.   Sharing dais with the chief minister during poll rallies, the BJP candidate is often seen standing alongside the 'maharaj' with folded hands.   Regarded as the fiefdom of the Gorakhnath peeth, the seat with 19.54 lakh voters has 10 candidates in the fray. However, a direct contest appears on the cards between BJP candidate Kishan and alliance nominee, Rambhuwal Nishad of the SP.

1:04 PM IST BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday accused West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress of indulging in violence in the state and alleged that the Election Commission has been a "mute spectator".   Addressing a press conference here, Shah also said he would not have escaped unhurt without CRPF protection when his convoy was allegedly attacked in Kolkata on Tuesday.   He said West Bengal has witnessed violence in all the six phases of Lok Sabha polls. "The BJP is contesting polls in all states. There has been no violence. But there has been violence in West Bengal as TMC is contesting elections there ... it is simple," he said.   Shah also accused TMC "goons" of vandalising the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar inside a college, saying it was done to gain "sympathy" as the Mamata Banerjee-led party has realised its "reverse count" has begun.

12:55 PM IST The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined to entertain a PIL filed by a BJP leader seeking directions to the Election Commission to "restrict" misuse of religion for poll gains.   The high court also asked the EC to decide BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay's representation against the remarks of actor-cum-politician Kamal Haasan that "free India's first extremist was a Hindu", referring to Nathuram Godse who killed Mahatma Gandhi.     The petition, filed by Upadhyay, has also sought debarring of candidates and deregistration of parties that "misuse" religion for electoral gains.

LIVE UPDATES

Priyanka's Varanasi roadshow gathers crowds

In a big show of strength in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra started her roadshow here Wednesday evening.
 
Accompanied by Congress candidate for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat against Modi, Priyanka Gandhi began by garlanding the statue of Madan Mohan Malviya at the gates of the Banaras Hindu University. Read more

TMC behind violence in Bengal, EC 'mute spectator' to poll code violations: Amit Shah

BJP chief Amit Shah Wednesday blamed West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress for violence during his roadshow in Kolkata and accused the Election Commission of "double standards" for remaining a "mute spectator" to rigging and violation of the poll code in the state.
 
He rejected TMC's allegation that BJP workers vandalised a bust of educationist and social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, claiming the regional party was behind it. Read more

Bengal will help us win more than 300 seats in this Lok Sabha election: PM Modi

All the surveys are giving BJP a full majority on its own, but Didi after seeing your frustration and the support from the people of Bengal, I'm saying that Bengal will help us win more than 300 seats, says PM Modi in West Bengal's Basirhat. (Source: ANI)

Modi will run nation for 25 years, suggests Adityanath

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Wednesday invoked Ram Manohar Lohia to suggest that Narendra Modi is set to run the country for many more years because of his focus on providing toilets and fuel for the poor.
 
In an interview to PTI, the chief minister expressed confidence that the Bharatiya Janata Party will win 74 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in his state, three more than it bagged on its own in 2014. Read more

I will leave politics if proved wrong: BJP's Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga

Who is this fellow Tejinder Bagga? Who is he? He was arrested, is he not the same guy who slapped somebody in Delhi?: Derek O Brien,TMC

'I don't have any regrets. I have not done anything for which I will have to apologise,' Sharma said

BJP youth wing activist Priyanka Sharma, who walked out of jail on Wednesday after being arrested for posting a morphed picture of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Facebook, said she would not apologise.
 
"I don't have any regrets. I have not done anything for which I will have to apologise," Sharma told a press conference at the BJP office.
 
She was released at 9.40 am from the Alipore jail after five days following a Supreme Court order.
 
The BJP activist alleged that she was harassed and tortured inside jail. "I was tortured in the jail. Even the jailer pushed me yesterday. I told them I am not a criminal that you are pushing me into the jail room like this," she said. "They behaved very rudely. The condition inside was very bad." Local BJP leaders and her mother were present outside the jail in south Kolkata when she was released.

Mamata, TMC leaders change Twitter, Facebook DP with Vidyasagar's photo

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and several top TMC leaders have changed their Facebook and Twitter display picture (DP) with photo of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar on Wednesday to protest the desecration of the bust of the noted reformer and key figure of the Bengal Renaissance.
 
Trinamool Congress's official profile on Twitter and Facebook was also changed with a picture of Vidyasagar.
 
Banerjee is scheduled to take out a protest rally on Wednesday to protest the smashing of the bust of the social reformer by alleged BJP activists in north Kolkata on Tuesday.
 
Launching a scathing attack on BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday, Banerjee had said, "What does Amit Shah think of himself? Is he above everything? Is he God that no one can protest against him?"
 
Banerjee said this after supporters of the BJP and the TMC fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a roadshow by Shah.

Yogi Adityanath takes lead role in Gorakhpur, Ravi Kishan plays supporting cast

In the battle to redeem lost pride in the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat, popular Bhojpuri actor and BJP candidate Ravi Kishan is playing second fiddle as Yogi Adityanath takes centre stage in the electoral fight.
 
Sharing dais with the chief minister during poll rallies, the BJP candidate is often seen standing alongside the 'maharaj' with folded hands.
 
Regarded as the fiefdom of the Gorakhnath peeth, the seat with 19.54 lakh voters has 10 candidates in the fray. However, a direct contest appears on the cards between BJP candidate Kishan and alliance nominee, Rambhuwal Nishad of the SP.

TMC behind violence in Kolkata, not BJP, says aMIT Shah

BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday accused West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress of indulging in violence in the state and alleged that the Election Commission has been a "mute spectator".
 
Addressing a press conference here, Shah also said he would not have escaped unhurt without CRPF protection when his convoy was allegedly attacked in Kolkata on Tuesday.
 
He said West Bengal has witnessed violence in all the six phases of Lok Sabha polls. "The BJP is contesting polls in all states. There has been no violence. But there has been violence in West Bengal as TMC is contesting elections there ... it is simple," he said.
 
Shah also accused TMC "goons" of vandalising the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar inside a college, saying it was done to gain "sympathy" as the Mamata Banerjee-led party has realised its "reverse count" has begun.

Delhi HC refuses to entertain PIL against Kamal Haasan's remark

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined to entertain a PIL filed by a BJP leader seeking directions to the Election Commission to "restrict" misuse of religion for poll gains.
 
The high court also asked the EC to decide BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay's representation against the remarks of actor-cum-politician Kamal Haasan that "free India's first extremist was a Hindu", referring to Nathuram Godse who killed Mahatma Gandhi.
 
 
The petition, filed by Upadhyay, has also sought debarring of candidates and deregistration of parties that "misuse" religion for electoral gains.
Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BSP president Mayawati on Wednesday said his legacy as the chief minister of Gujarat is a black spot and burden on the BJP as well as the communal history of the country.
 
She alleged that the prime minister had crossed all limits of decency in terming the BSP the personal property of its president.
 
"The entire country knows that most of those having benami properties and the corrupt are connected with the BJP," Mayawati said, adding that the prime minister is honest only on paper just like he is an OBC only on paper.

PM Modi addresses last public meeting of this election season

PM Modi in Paliganj, Bihar: This is my last public meeting today; last opportunity to seek blessings for 2019 Elections. (Source: ANI)

Modi's legacy as Gujarat CM is black spot: Mayawati

Modi's legacy as Gujarat CM is black spot not only on himself and BJP, but also on country's communal history: Mayawati
Had Congress and RJD in Bihar really cared for the poor, they would have hesitated before indulging in corruption: PM Modi.

The Mahamilavatis have only two issues tarnish the image of Modi and dislodge him from power: PM at a rally in Bihar.

The Mahamilavatis have only two issues tarnish the image of Modi and dislodge him from power: PM at a rally in Bihar. 

My statement has been taken out of context: Kamal Haasan

PM Modi's legacy as Gujarat CM is a black stain on BJP: Mayawati