SP releases list of star campaigners for second phase of LS polls, includes Mulayam Singh Yadav

FP Staff
Lok Sabha Election 2019 Tracker LIVE updates: Samajwadi Party (SP) released list of star campaigners for second phase of Lok Sabha elections. Mulayam Singh Yadav's name, which was missing in the first list, has been included in the second one.

Samajwadi Party (SP) released list of star campaigners for second phase of Lok Sabha elections. Mulayam Singh Yadav's name, which was missing in the first list, has been included in the second one.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address two back-to-back election rallies in West Bengal on 3 April, BJP leader Mukul Roy said on Sunday.

 Modi will speak at a public meeting at Siliguri in North Bengal around 1 pm, followed by another rally at Kolkata's Brigade Parade ground at 3 pm on the same day, Roy told reporters in Kolkata.

The Congress released its ninth list of ten candidates on Sunday.

Among the ten candidates, the Congress fielded K Chidambaram from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu, former NCP leader Tariq Anwar from Katihar in Bihar, senior leader BK Hariprasad from Bengaluru South.

Union minister SS Ahluwalia told the BJP leadership on Sunday that he will be opting out of the Darjeeling seat. According to CNN-News18, Ahluwalia also communicated to the party leadership that he will be available to contest from another seat.

The BJP president Amit Shah Sunday launched a scathing attack at the Opposition after kick-starting his election rally in Agra.

He said, "Mayawati wanted to remove Prime Minister Narendra Modi and now she doesn't want to run for the elections. Sharad Pawar wanted to remove the prime minister and now he is saying that he won't run for elections too. Who will the prime minister if the grand alliance is voted to power?"

Shah further alleged that the Opposition was afraid of fighting elections and have only "selfish interests".

The Uttar Pradesh Congress secretary Narendra Rathi displayed the membership form, reportedly filled up by Sapna Chaudhary. According to Rathi, Chaudhary's sister also joined the Congress on Saturday.

Haryanvi singer-dancer Sapna Chaudhary on Sunday denied reports of her joining the Congress party. Speaking to ANI, the dancer said that she will not be campaigning for any political party.

Earlier on Sunday, several media reports claimed that Chaudhary had joined the Congress on Saturday and was formally inducted into the party at Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Raj Babbar's Delhi residence. Adding to this, the rumours also claimed that Chaudhary was fielded against BJP's Hema Malini

A day after grand alliance talks with Left parties failed in Bihar, Communist Party of India (CPI) on Sunday confirmed that former president of the JNU students' union, Kanhaiya Kumar will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Begusarai constituency.

CPI leader Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy told ANI: "Kanhaiya Kumar will contest from Begusarai Lok Sabha constituency." In Begusarai, a stronghold of the CPI, Kumar will be facing BJP leader and Union Minister Giriraj whose Nawada seat went to NDA ally LJP.

The announcement comes a day after the opposition Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) allotted just one seat to the Left parties in Bihar.

The Congress has declared its first list of nine candidates for Lok Sabha elections in Madhya Pradesh which includes party veteran Digvijaya Singh and Meenakshi Natarajan. Congress general secretary Mukul Wasnik released the list late on Saturday night. The state has 29 parliamentary seats.

As Chief Minister Kamal Nath had announced on Saturday, Singh will be contesting from the state capital Bhopal, a BJP stronghold since 1989. Meenakshi Natarajan, a close confidant of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, will again take on Sudhir Gupta, the sitting BJP MP, in Mandsaur.

Over two lakh differently-abled or `divyang' voters in Maharashtra can use a specially designed mobile app to seek special facilities at polling booths during the next month's Lok Sabha elections.

Facilities such as wheelchairs, ramps and transport from home will be rolled out for 2,24,162 registered differently-abled voters in the state, PTI reported. "Accessible Elections" is the EC's slogan, the report quoted an EC official as saying.

The largest group €" 37,324 €" among Divyang voters are those suffering from visual impairment, while 18,022 voters suffer from handicaps of limbs (such as not being able to walk), the official added. Maharashtra will witness voting in four phases, starting from 11 April.

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) is scheduled to meet on Monday and is likely to discuss the poll preparedness for the Lok Sabha polls. The meeting will be held at the Congress office in Delhi.

According to party sources, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has convened the meeting of the highest decision-making body which had its last meeting at Ahmedabad in Gujarat on 12 March.

Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav's name has not been included in the party's list of star campaigners for the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

The party on Sunday also released a list of candidates. Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is set to contest the crucial General Elections from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, while the party will also field senior leader Azam Khan from Rampur.

 Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav will contest from the Azamgarh Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh, the party announced onSunday. An SP release also said the party will field senior leader Mohd Azam Khan from Rampur.

In a press conference on Saturday evening, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad fired fresh salvos at Rahul Gandhi and said, "He is always asking us questions and everyone knows the truth behind it. We would like to put questions to Rahul Gandhi. We want to know what is the source of your income?"

Referring to Rahul's brother-in-law Robert Vadra who is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate, Prasad said, "So far we have seen the Vadra model of development, which is that a man has Rs 6 or 7 lakhs and in two three years, he has Rs 700 to 800 crores of property. We're witnessing the Rahul Gandhi model of development now."

The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party have announced their alliance in Maharashtra, according to reports. Congress will contest from 26 seats and NCP from 22 seats . Maharashtra has a total of 48 seats, the second largest after Uttar Pradesh.

Congress's sitting MP from Tumkur, SP Muddahanumegowda, has said he will be filing his nomination from the seat on Monday, reported News18. In the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) seat sharing deal, the seat had been offered to JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, speaking in Malda, effectively brought the curtains down on the party's seat-sharing possibilities with the Left in West Bengal. "You have seen the CPI(M), which has been in power through all these years. Its government has brought about no development. The violence that was unleashed then on behalf of an organisation is being done for an individual now," Rahul said in Malda. The Left Front, of which the CPI(M) is a part had been in talks with the Congress for a seat sharing deal in the state until recently.

Speaking at Malda, Rahul Gandhi reminded voters of Congress MP Mausam Noor who had recently left the party and joined Trinamool Congress. "You, who have always voted for the Congress, were cheated by your Congress MP. Remind her of that," he said, without taking Noor's name. Malda has for long been a Congress mainstay.

Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav reacted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's blog post on the occasion of the birth anniversary of socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia and said he wondered which of the principles of the leader were being spoken of by the PM. Calling the party schizophrenic, Akhilesh accused them of co-opting some leaders who are opposed to their core beliefs.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala on Saturday, hit back at BJP president Amit Shah who raked up Sam Pitroda's comments again and questioned Modi on his message to Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan, which Khan tweeted about last night. Surjewala said the letter or message has proved that "chowkidar" Modi's reference to Pakistan as the root of all evil is just for the public and media and asked him to stop writing love letters to Pakistan.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath has announced that state's former CM and senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh will fight Lok Sabha polls from Bhopal, coming out of a self-imposed behind-the-scenes presence.

At a rally in Bihar's Purnea, Rahul Gandhi tore into the BJP government helmed by Narendra Modi. "Narendra Modi has stopped Anil Ambani from getting punished in front of your eyes, you are still not angered. Mehul Choksi steals in front of your eyes, you are not angered. Thievery is rampant in front of your eyes, how long will you watch this?" he asked. He added that Amit Shah's bank has given money to the likes of Nirav Modi.

Speaking from the BJP headquarters in a press conference where he picked on Sam Pitroda's comments on Friday, BJP chief Amit Shah said, "Congress has always used the policies of appeasement. I have no problem with that. The BJP has no problem with that because people know better. But who are they to play vote bank politics over the blood and lives of Indians?"

With the BJP on its fourth list of candidates, the Congress has released its seventh list of candidates. The latest list announces key candidates who will contest from Telangana, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Puducherry, Tripura, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

The party has left the Srinagar seat to its ally, the National Conference. Veteran leader Renuka Chowdhury will contest the Khamman seat of Telangana, while Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Raj Babbar will fight from Fatehpur Sikri.

Shatrughan Sinha, who has on many occasions made his disillusionment with the BJP leadership apparent, was dropped from the NDA's list of candidates from Bihar on Saturday. Sinha may contest from the seat on a Congress seat. He is likely to join the party soon, say reports.

Nawada MP and Union minister Giriraj Singh will contest from Begusarai. Singh had won from Nawada in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and as reports had emerged that the leader's constituency will be changed, Singh had expressed his unhappiness with the decision.

While Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan will not be contesting the Lok Sabha election, the NDA's Bihar candidates' list features two of his younger brothers and his son. His son Chirag will contest from Jamui, Bihar.

The NDA has released its candidates' list for the 40 constituencies of Bihar. Santosh Kumar Kushwaha is set to contest from Purnia while Ravi Shankar Prasad will contest from Patna Sahib.

Twenty-one years after officially separating from the Congress, Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool has removed the grand old party's name from its logo. The Congress name has been dropped from party banners, posters and all communication material.

The Opposition 'mahagathbandhan' in Bihar on Friday announced its seat-sharing formula for the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state, half of which will be fought by Lalu Prasads RJD and nine by Congress.>

Following a press conference by the Congress which sought a Lokpal investigation into a The Caravan report that alleged bribes of Rs 1,800 crore were paid by BS Yeddyurappa to the BJP's top brass, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad lashed out and accused the Congress of creating a "web of lies".

The alleged entries are notes by Yeddyurappa, in which he mentions having paid various amounts ranging between Rs 50 crore and Rs 250 crore to BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.

Former UPA minister, the son of influential Congress leader Jeetendra Prasada and one of Rahul Gandhi's closest friends, Jitin Prasada is reportedly joining the BJP in what could be a big letdown for the Congress ahead of the 2019 General Elections.

The Bahujan Samaj Party has released its first list of candidates for the 2019 Lok Sabha. Danish Ali, who recently left the Janata Dal (Secular) party to join BSP, will contest from Amroha.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the formal induction of cricketer Gautam Gambhir to Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the Lok Sabha election 2019. Addressing the media, Jaitley said, "We are a cadre-based party now but we also induct people who have excelled in their various fields."

"Opposition insults our forces time and again. I appeal to my fellow Indians- question Opposition leaders on their statements. Tell them- 130 crore Indians will not forgive or forget the Opposition for their antics. India stands firmly with our forces," tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi after Sam Pitroda's interview where Congress's Indian overseas chief said that entire Pakistan can't be blamed for 26/11 and Pulwama terror attacks.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on Twitter, mocked Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for postponing a Friday morning press conference. Twitter banter between India's two leading parties is not unusual. There have been several occasions where both, the Congress and the BJP, have jumped at every chance they've got to mock the other.

Bihar's Grand Alliance is expected to announce its seat-sharing agreement today for the upcoming Lok Sabha election. The state has 40 Lok Sabha seats. The grand alliance comprises Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD), Upendra Kushwaha's RLSP, Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM and Mukesh Sahni's Vikasheel Insaf Party.

With just weeks to go for the Lok Sabha election, the BJP on Thursday released the first list of candidates featuring political bigwigs including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah, and Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and Smriti Irani.

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.

Also See: EC announces 2019 Lok Sabha election dates updates: Polls to be held in 7 phases from 11 April, PM tweets on 'festival of democracy'

Lok Sabha Election 2019: Fears of poll date sceptics lie not in Ramzan overlap but how it allows BJP to campaign longer

Rahul Gandhi launches UPA's Tamil Nadu campaign for LS polls, says AIADMK govt controlled by PMO

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