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Assembly Elections 2021 LIVE updates: High voter turnout in Bengal proof of change of guard, says J P Nadda

West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu Election 2021 LIVE updates: Polls are to be held for 294 seats in West Bengal, 234 seats in Tamil Nadu, 140 seats in Kerala, 126 seats in Assam and 30 seats in Puducherry.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 31, 2021 9:01:04 pm
BJP National President J P Nadda addresses during a roadshow in support of the party candidate Baishali Dalmiya (R), for the State Assembly polls, in Belur, Howrah district. (PTI)

Assembly Elections 2021 LIVE updates: BJP national president J P Nadda on Wednesday asserted that the high percentage of polling in the first phase is proof enough of a change of guard in West Bengal, as people have lost faith in the “corrupt” TMC regime. The first phase of assembly polls on March 27 recorded 79.79 per cent voting.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday wrote to non-BJP leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, MK Stalin, Tejashwi Yadav, Uddhav Thackeray, Arvind Kejriwal, and Naveen Patnaik, stating that the time has come for a “united and effective struggle” against BJP’s “attacks on democracy and Constitution”.

A total of 69 seats spread across West Bengal and Assam will go to the polls on April 1. Nandigram, where CM Mamata Banerjee is locking horns with Suvendu Adhikari, will also vote along with 29 other seats in the second phase, the campaigning for which ended on Tuesday. For Banerjee and the BJP, the battle for Nandigram is a prestige fight. This was the place where she led an agitation against land acquisition in 2007, and it catapulted her to the centrestage of state politics.

Meanwhile, in Assam’s Barak Valley, BJP’s CAA promise, excluding Muslim immigrants, and now its rhetoric targeting ‘Miya’ culture are playing on the intrinsic divide. While the AIUDF has always had a presence in Barak Valley, the BJP’s vilification has turned Hindus against it, as well as ally Congress.

Live Blog

Campaigning for the second phase ends; 69 seats spread across West Bengal and Assam will go to the polls on April 1; campaigning to continue in other parts of West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. Follow LIVE updates

21:01 (IST)31 Mar 2021
AJP files complaint with election office against BJP candidate

The Assam Jatiya Parishad on Wednesday complained to the Chief Electoral Officer against sitting BJP MLA and Morigain candidate Rama Kanta Dewri for allegedly distributing money.

The newly floated political party enclosed a video, which has gone viral showing Dewri of handing over money to some women.

The complaint to the CEO said the BJP MLA is "clearly seen to have distributed money in cash amongst a crowd predominantly consisted of women".

"The act appears to be a clear case of corrupt practices and electoral offence under the legal provisions governing conduct of elections which warrant stern action by the ECI," AJP Office Secretary Nikhil Bhattacharjya said in the letter.

The party demanded an inquiry into the matter and "appropriate legal action" against the candidate. (PTI)

21:00 (IST)31 Mar 2021
Priyanka Gandhi takes on Modi for quoting from Bible at rally

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi on Wednesday took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "quoting" from the Bible at a poll rally and nothing for the nuns harassed by "goons" belonging to his party during a train journey through BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh recently.

"I suppose this was because the elections in Kerala are around the corner. Because I didn't hear a single word about the sisters who were harassed in Jhansi," she said, a day after Modi targeted the ruling LDF over the gold smuggling scam in a poll rally in Palakkad, saying the CPI(M)-led government "betrayed" the people,just as Judas did to Jesus for a few pieces of silver".

Addressing an election rally here, Gandhi said there was nothing more hollow than quoting from the Bible "to sow seeds of division and hatred in the country".

She said she has worked for many years with the nuns belonging to Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in Delhi, who taught her how to clean the wounds of the destitutes. (PTI)

20:26 (IST)31 Mar 2021
Former TMC MLA Dinesh Bajaj joins BJP

Former TMC MLA Dinesh Bajaj joined the BJP on Wednesday, a day before the second phase polling in the state. He was inducted into the party in the presence of BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya at the party office in the Hastings area.

After joining the BJP, the former TMC MLA said he took such a decision after being denied a ticket to contest in Assembly polls this time. "The party is no longer in control of Mamata Banerjee. Someone wise is running the party using her image. The promise to give me a ticket this time was also not kept," said Bajaj after his induction.

20:21 (IST)31 Mar 2021
High voter turnout proof change of guard imminent in Bengal: Nadda

BJP chief J P Nadda on Wednesday asserted that the high percentage of polling in the first phase is proof enough of a change of guard in West Bengal, as people have lost faith in the "corrupt" TMC regime.

Nadda also lauded the Election Commission for conducting "peaceful elections" in spite of "TMC goons" at play.

"'Khela shesh hoye gyache' (the game is over). The high polling percentage shows that people are yearning for change. (Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee is worried as the elections were peaceful and the TMC goons could not have a field day," he said, addressing a poll rally here.

The first phase of assembly polls on March 27 recorded 79.79 per cent voting. (PTI)

18:47 (IST)31 Mar 2021
Watch: Sights and sounds of Assam elections
18:22 (IST)31 Mar 2021
Mamata has lost ground in Bengal, speaking of 'gotra' is sign of desperation: Javadekar

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday said that TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has realised that she has lost ground in West Bengal and is speaking about her 'gotra' in desperation, but this "drama" will not help her party win the assembly election.

"You are disclosing your gotra and are opposing 'Jai Shri Ram' and also disallowed Ma Durga's immersion during Durga Puja. People understand everything as to who is genuine and who is not," he told reporters.

Javadekar claimed that the people of the state have already made up their mind to bring the BJP to power and the Lok Sabha election result indicated the people's will to reject Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress.

As she ended her Nandigram poll campaign, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said during her speech that her gotra was 'Shandilya'.

"I visited a temple where the priest asked me my 'gotra'. I told him - 'Maa, Maati, Manus', but actually I'm Shandilya," Banerjee said in Nandigram, where she is pitted against her former general secretary Suvendu Adhikari. (PTI)

18:21 (IST)31 Mar 2021
BJP will not allow Assam to become infiltrators hub again: Amit Shah

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday accused Congress and AIUDF of hankering for power in Assam to open the borders for infiltrators and said emphatically that BJP will not allow the state to become a hub for illegal immigrants again after freeing the land encroached by them during last five years.

Taking a swipe at All India United Democratic Front chief Badruddin Ajmal for claiming that the "lock and key" (AIUDF symbol) of forming the next government in the state is in his hands, Shah said the people would decide who will run Assam.

"Kaan khol kar sunlo Ajmal, Assam ko ghuspetiyo ke adda phir se nahin banne denge (Ajmal listen carefully we will not allow Assam to become a hub for infiltrators again)", Shah said.

Shah began the day with a rally at Bijni constituency in Chirang district that comes under Bodoland Territorial Region followed by public meetings at Hajo in Kamrup (Rural) and Dispur in Kamrup (Metropolitan) districts.

"Ajmal claims that the 'lock and key' of forming the next government is in his hands and he will decide who will form the next government in Assam, but he does not realise that the 'taala aur chabi' Assam ke janta ke haath mein hain (the lock and key is with the people of Assam)", he said. (PTI)

17:49 (IST)31 Mar 2021
Bengal polls: J P Nadda campaigns for party candidate from Howrah

BJP national president J P Nadda campaigns for Baishali Dalmiya, the party's candidate from Bally constituency in Howrah district in West Bengal.

17:15 (IST)31 Mar 2021
'I am not like Modi who lies to India 24/7': Rahul Gandhi

Upping the ante against the BJP, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday asserted that he is not like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who "lies to India 24/7".

Gandhi, while addressing an election rally in Chaygaon constituency in Assam's Kamrup district, urged people to listen to him if they want to hear the truth.

"I haven't come here to lie to you. My name is not Narendra Modi. If you wish to hear him lie about Assam, farmers or any other issue, switch on the television. He lies to India 24/7. If you want to listen to the truth, hear me out," he said.

"People from different languages, ethnicities and ideologies are peacefully listening to me. This is Assam. But the BJP makes one brother fight another and spreads hatred. They give tea garden contracts to outsiders.

"Assam will elect its own chief minister when the Congress comes to power. The state won't be governed by Nagpur (RSS headquarters) or Delhi," he said. (PTI)

16:19 (IST)31 Mar 2021
BJP files complaint against Mamata Banerjee with EC over alleged threats

Accusing West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of issuing threats to its supporters in her rallies, BJP has registered a complaint with the Election Commission over comments made by her.

In its letter to the poll panel, BJP on Tuesday alleged, despite "pro-active" role of the commission, "large-scale violence" has been reported during past several days due to such utterances by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief.

To back up its claim, the letter mentioned a widely circulated video of a meeting addressed by Banerjee at Nandigram on March 29. "In the meeting she said the central paramilitary forces will go one day, but she will stay in Bengal. Who will then save her rivals," the letter quoted Banerjee as saying.

Raising objection to the TMC supremo's remarks, the letter signed by BJP leaders Shishir Bajoria, Arjun Singh and Pratap Banerjee said, "Such statements are threat to free, fair and peaceful elections ... and have been brought to the notice of the commission." (PTI)

16:04 (IST)31 Mar 2021
Mamata writes to Opposition leaders, calls for united stand against BJP's 'attacks on democracy, Constitution'

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday wrote to non-BJP leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, MK Stalin, Tejashwi Yadav, Uddhav Thackeray, Arvind Kejriwal, and Naveen Patnaik, stating that the time has come for a "united and effective struggle" against BJP's "attacks on democracy and constitutional federalism".

In the letter, Mamata said that in states governed by non-BJP parties, the BJP-led Centre is creating problems for duly elected government by misusing governor's office.

The West Bengal CM also said the passage of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) (GNCTD) Bill is a "grave development" and the BJP has snatched practically all powers of a democratically elected government. The GNCTD Bill gives more power to Delhi's Lieutenant Governor, making the AAP government in Delhi to seek the means the LG's opinion before taking any executive action.

"LG has been made undeclared Viceroy of Delhi, acting as proxy for home minister and PM," the CM said.

15:31 (IST)31 Mar 2021
Results of assembly polls will mark beginning of Congress' return to Delhi in 2024: Oommen Chandy

The Kerala poll results along with those of other states will mark the beginning of the Congress' comeback nationally and its return to Delhi in 2024, former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy said on Wednesday.

Chandy, who is among the top contenders to be the chief minister if the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) gets a majority in the Kerala polls, said there would be "no problem" in the selection of the CM after the polls if voted to power and the high command's decision in the matter would be acceptable to all the leaders.

Expressing confidence that the UDF would come to power, Chandy said the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the last assembly elections made so many promises but could not fulfil any of them, and asserted that the people can see the difference between the LDF and the UDF.

"The slogan of UDF is development and care, development of state and care stands for special attention to the weaker sections. We fulfilled our promises (when in government)," said Chandy, who was the chief minister from August 2004 to May 2006 and then from May 2011 to May 2016. (PTI)

15:28 (IST)31 Mar 2021
Challenge outside leaders to speak in Bangla for 2 min: Abhishek Banerjee

Addressing a poll rally in Alipurduar, TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee said, "Every year, West Bengal sends Rs 75,000 crores to the Central government. But when they send Rs 1,000 crores for Amphan relief, BJP leaders say it has been sent by Modi Ji. This is our money, not of fathers of BJP leaders."

"Many leaders are coming to Bengal from Delhi for the election campaign. I challenge them to speak for only 2 minutes in Bengali. I challenge them. I am ready to speak in Hindi in any part of the country," he added. 

(ANI) 

13:40 (IST)31 Mar 2021
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh campaigns in Udagamandalam-Ooty
13:38 (IST)31 Mar 2021
'If you want to listen to lies, look at Modi's face and listen to him,' says Rahul Gandhi

Speaking at a campaign rally in Assam's Kamrup district, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, "I've not come here to lie to you. My name isn't Narendra Modi. If you want to listen to lies - about Assam, farmers, about anything - then switch on your TV, look at Narendra Modi's face & listen to him as much as you want. He lies to India all 24 hours." (ANI)

13:36 (IST)31 Mar 2021
'Saw TMC workers celebrating Sarasvati puja enthusiastically, where were they for last 4 years,' says JP Nadda

While campaigning in West Bengal, BJP Chief JP Nadda said, "I saw TMC workers celebrating Saraswati puja very enthusiastically this year. Where were you in last 4 yrs? Now, Mamata Ji is performing 'Chandi paath'. Why didn't you do it earlier? She is doing it now because people have decided that her departure is certain." (ANI)

13:19 (IST)31 Mar 2021
'Govt will fulfil all promises in Bodo Agreement before 2022 for peaceful Assam,' says Shah

Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah in Chirang: "I have come here to promise you that Govt of India will implement every single promise made in Bodo agreement before 2022 for a peaceful Assam." 

13:19 (IST)31 Mar 2021
'Rahul baba is in Assam as a tourist these days,' says Amit Shah

Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah in Chirang: "Rahul Baba is in Assam as a tourist nowadays. He says Badruddin Ajmal is Assam's identity. You tell me if Ajmal is Assam's identity or Bhupen Hazarika, Upendra Nath & Shankar Dev. Black Mountain Badruddin Ajmal can't be Assam's identity." 

13:15 (IST)31 Mar 2021
Unlike BJP, Congress fulfils its poll promises: Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday visited the famed Kamakhya temple in Guwahati and offered puja. Speaking to reporters at the temple, Gandhi said that unlike the BJP his party keeps the promises made to the people during the elections.

Replying to a question that what his party will do if it wins the state elections, Gandhi said, "We have promised five guarantees". Asked how the Congress will fulfil the 'five guarantees', Gandhi shot back, "Do you know what guarantee means? We are not like BJP, we fulfill what we promise." The Congress leader said that in Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka his party had promised to waive farm loans and did it after assuming power.

"In Assam, we have guaranteed to raise the tea garden workers' daily wage to Rs 365," he said, referring to one of the five promises. Gandhi offered prayers at the Shaktipeeth atop the Nilachal Hill prior to setting out for election rallies at Chaygaon and Barkhetri, which will go to the polls in the last phase on April 6. (PTI)

13:12 (IST)31 Mar 2021
'Goons from other states have entered Nandigram': Mamata urges EC for action

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday urged the Election Commission to take action, alleging that goons from other states have come to Nandigram to foment trouble and intimidate the voters.

Speaking to reporters before hitting the campaign trail for the later phases, Banerjee alleged that locals are being hounded out of various villages in the assembly constituency in the Purba Medinipur district. "Goons from other states have entered Nandigram to intimidate the voters. The villagers of Balarampur and many other areas are being hounded out. They are intimidating voters," she alleged.

"We are lodging a complaint with the EC. The Election Commission must take note of it and take action," she added. BJP leader Jaiprakash Majumdar said that although it is for the EC to look into the allegations, but it seems that sensing defeat the chief minister is making such claims in advance. (PTI)

Meanwhile in Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday hit out at her protege-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari and his father Sisir Adhikari, saying the family “will remain “na ghar ka, na ghat ka [neither here nor there]” after the Assembly elections.

Suvendu joined the Opposition party last December and was followed subsequently by his youngest brother Soumendu and his father. Banerjee is contesting the polls against Suvendu in Nandigram, where an anti-land acquisition movement over a decade ago propelled her to power in 2011. Suvendu was a close associate of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief at the time.

The chief minister made the remarks slamming the Adhikaris at an event in Nandigram. The chief minister also accused the BJP and Suvendu Adhikari of indulging in hooliganism in Nandigram, claiming they were afraid of losing the election.

[also_read title = "Also Read" article_title= "LDF ally rakes up ‘love jihad’; BJP, Catholic body seek CM response" id = "7250782" liveblog = "no" ]

In Kerala, a day after BJP Rajya Sabha member and actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi remarked that he wanted to see IUML candidate K N A Khadar win the Gurvayur Assembly seat — where the BJP candidate’s nomination was rejected —  Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan kicked up a fresh round of allegations of a poll understanding between the Congress-led UDF and the BJP.

Reacting to Gopi’s remarks, Vijayan on Monday said: “This is a deal among Congress, IUML and BJP. Suresh Gopi is not a seasoned politician. Other BJP leaders would not publicly disclose such secrets. When BJP says that an IUML candidate should emerge the winner, don’t think it is not aimed at the benefit of either Congress or IUML,” said Vijayan.

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