Election news wrap: Rahul chooses ‘safe’ Wayanad seat; PM interacts with Chowkidarshttps://indianexpress.com/elections/lok-sabha-elections-2019-congress-bjp-rahul-gandhi-narendra-modi-5651600/

Election news wrap: Rahul chooses ‘safe’ Wayanad seat; PM interacts with Chowkidars

With the Lok Sabha elections around the corner, here is a list of major political developments that happened today.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the “Main Bhi Chowkidar” event in the national capital. (Twitter/BJP4India)

With less than two weeks to go, political parties have stepped up their campaigns across the country for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. While Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Sunday announced to contest a second seat from Kerala’s Wayanad, besides his constituency Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi intensified his “Main Bhi Chowkidar” campaign and addressed those who have pledged their support to it across 500 locations through video conferencing.

Let us have a look at the political developments which happened today:

Rahul Gandhi picks Wayanad as his second Lok Sabha seat

Putting speculations to rest, the Congress today announced that party president Rahul Gandhi will be contesting from Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala in addition to his Amethi constituency. Addressing reporters in this regard, senior Congress leader A K Antony said, “Rahul ji has given his consent to contest from two seats, very happy to inform you that he will also contest from Wayanad in Kerala.”

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Residents sign on Wall of Pledge, promising to vote during the upcoming elections in Ludhiana. (Express photo/Gurmeet Singh)

Rumours were rife that Gandhi may eventually choose a second seat in Karnataka where the party’s alliance with the JD(S) is seen to pose a stiff challenge to the BJP. But he chose to fight from Wayanad on the Kerala Congress’ request.

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Reacting to the announcement, BJP Kerala President PS Sreedharan Pillai told indianexpress.com: “We will carry out a strong campaign against Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad. Will speak with the central leadership and BDJS on the candidate in a changed scenario.” The seat is currently allotted to BJP-ally BJDS candidate Paily Vathiattu.

‘No place in Amethi for Rahul’

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Amit Shah flashes a victory sign during a road show before filing his nomination on Saturday. (AP)

BJP chief Amit Shah said, “Congress’ vote bank politics has threatened the safety of our country. It is a result of this that Rahul Gandhi is leaving Amethi and has advanced towards Kerala because he knows that he has no place in Amethi this time.”

Country does not need rajas and maharajas: PM Modi

Interacting with people who have pledged their support to the ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ campaign across 500 locations through video conferencing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday took a veiled dig at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and said some people with a “narrow mind” had stereotyped the image of a “chowkidar”.

“As a chowkidar, I will fulfil my responsibility. But, some people who have a narrow mind have stereotyped the image of a chowkidar,” Modi said.

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People gather to hear Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak on his “Main Bhi Chowkidar” campaign. (Express photo/Premnath Pandey)

PM Modi also said the country does not need rajas and maharajas while asserting that a chowkidar was a representative of Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of trusteeship. “Country does not need rajas and maharajas. Chowkidar is a spirit, a sentiment. The spirit behind chowkidar is expanding,” he said.

Congress, JD(S) hold first rally in Karnataka

The ruling alliance in Karnataka today launched their joint Lok Sabha election campaign with Rahul Gandhi and JDS patriarch HD Deve Gowda addressing a mega rally on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Titled “Parivartana Samavesha”, this is the first rally jointly organised by the Congress and JDS after the combine came to power in the southern state last year.

Rahul asked the Congress workers and leaders to work for JDS candidates and made a similar appeal to JDS counterparts, emphasising that their main target was to “defeat Modi.”

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The crowd at the Congress-JD(S) rally in Karnataka on Sunday. (Twitter/@INCIndia)

He also raked up the “Yeddyurappa diary” issue, referring to the allegation that the former Chief Minister had paid Rs 1,800 crore as bribe to the party top brass. “Whose money is Rs 1,800 crore?” Gandhi asked, as he mentioned about the alleged entries in the diary about alleged payments made to senior BJP leaders. “Where did this money come from?” he asked, adding it came from farmers.

Rahul Gandhi promises special status to Andhra

While addressing his first rally in Vijayawada this morning, the Congress chief assured to accord the Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh if the Congress is voted to power at the Centre. “Five years have gone by and the current Prime Minister did not fulfil the promises made by the people of the country. And it is sad that neither of the two parties in AP had put pressure on the PM to take this decision,” he said while referring to the TDP government.

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Congress chief Rahul Gandhi at an election campaign rally in Vijayawada. (PTI)

Later in the evening, Rahul held a public meeting in Anantapur district where he spoke about the travails of farmers in the state, particularly in this parched district, and said 600 farmers had committed suicide in the last two years.

Mamata, Kejriwal join TDP rally

Campaigning for Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party in Vishakhapatnam, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Demonetisation was the biggest scam of 70 years but they have killed brotherhood. They are making communities fight each other. Like Hitler had changed the German Constitution in 1931, if PM Modi and Amit Shah win in 2019, it will be the last election. Even BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj had said that too,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in Vishakhapatnam.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was also present at the rally, said, “Modi ji, don’t worry who will become the prime minister. We also work for the people, we know what to do and how to do. You never gave an interview. Let us have a debate on one of your channels. Let us debate without phones and teleprompters.”

Will Congress ally with AAP? Announcement soon

Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit is expected to clear the air on the alliance with Aam Aadmi Party today or tomorrow. An official statement in this regard will be made soon, she said.

Congress, a national party in true sense: Shatrughan Sinha

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi met BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI)

Speaking for the first time since joining Congress last week, actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha has said that even though he got offers from Trinamool, Samajwadi Party and AAP, he chose the Grand Old Party as it was a national party in the “true sense”. He said he was also advised to do so by RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav.

“Many people like Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav and Arvind Kejriwal among others, wanted me to be in their party. But I had to come to this place because I had said that whatever be the situation, the location will be the same,” Sinha said.

Bullet and bomb for terrorists: Yogi

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Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at the public meeting in Ghaziabad on Sunday. (Express photo/Gajendra Yadav)

Hitting out at the Opposition for seeking evidence of the Balakot airstrike, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath alleged that only two factions were “pained” by the post-Pulwama retaliation — Pakistan and the Opposition.

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“Pakistan was counting the dead bodies of terrorists. At that time, our Opposition was asking questions about the airstrike. This will not be tolerated at any cost,” he said at a rally in Ghaziabad.