Lok Sabha Elections 2019 HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Modi is anti-Dalit and he must be punished for it,’ says Chandrashekhar Azad in Delhihttps://indianexpress.com/elections/lok-sabha-elections-2019-live-updates-congress-bjp-narendra-modi-rahul-gandhi-rallies-campaign-chhattisgarh-odisha-5627444/

Lok Sabha Elections 2019 HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Modi is anti-Dalit and he must be punished for it,’ says Chandrashekhar Azad in Delhi

Lok Sabha Elections 2019 HIGHLIGHTS: In Chhattisgarh's Raipur, Rahul Gandhi said the Congress is considering Right to Healthcare Act as part of the party's manifesto for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Lok Sabha Elections 2019 LIVE updates: ‘Modi is anti-Dalit and he must be punished for it,’ says Chandrashekhar Azad in Delhi
Bhim Army Chief Chandra Shekhar Azad at ‘Hunkar Rally’ in New Delhi. (Express photo: Praveen Khanna)

Lok Sabha Elections 2019 HIGHLIGHTS: Congress president Rahul Gandhi Friday took on the Naveen Patnaik-led government while addressing a public meeting at Sarsara Public Meeting ground in Bargah district of Odisha. Gandhi called Odisha as the ‘centre of unemployment’ and accused the state government of not generating jobs opportunities for the youth.

Earlier in the day, Gandhi interacted with health professionals in Raipur, where he said the Congress is considering Right to Healthcare Act as part of the party’s manifesto for 2019 Lok Sabha elections adding that in their manifesto, Congress is committed to increasing health budget to 3 per cent. “Healthcare is, in a sense, a foundation. So, we’ve to ensure that the foundation is built firmly. Congress govt in 2019 is dramatically going to increase the amount of money we put into healthcare and education,” Gandhi added.

On Thursday, the Congress president addressed an election rally in Kerala where he hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that a Prime Minister’s job is not to tell the nation his mann ki baat but to listen to the mann ki baat of every citizen. Addressing a rally in Kozhikode, Rahul said, “I stand in front of the press every week to listen to their questions. And what does our Prime Minister do every week? He tells the country what he thinks… like a man who stands in front of the sea every morning and tells the ocean what he thinks. This man does not care about the ocean. Can you imagine the arrogance of such a person?” Earlier in the day, Gandhi interacted with fishermen at the National Fishermen Parliament organised by All India Fishermen Congress in Thriprayar and said the most important thing is giving voice to the people.

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Meanwhile, with less than a month to go for the Lok Sabha polls, and just two months after the BSP announced a seat-sharing tie-up with the SP in UP, at least 15 prominent leaders of the Mayawati-led party has switched to the BJP, including 11 who have contested on its symbol in state and general elections. Also, Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan joined BJP on Thursday in the presence of Ravi Shankar Prasad.

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HIGHLIGHTS of Rahul Gandhi's rally in Odisha and interaction with health professionals in Raipur. Read in Bangla

When I announced to fight from Varanasi, Modi could be seen washing feet of our brothers: Bhim Army chief

“I am going to Banaras and I will need your help to defeat him. I am going there because he is Anti-Dalit and he must know that he will be punished for it. He must know, in democracy, the public is everything,” Azad said while addressing a gathering in a ‘Hunkar Rally’ at Jantar Mantar. Meanwhile, the Bhim Army is planning to put up its own candidates or support those who are not part of the SP-BSP alliance in seats where the “gathbandhan is not strong enough” in UP.

This move could come as a setback for the BSP with weeks to go for the Lok Sabha elections. Read more here

Will join Congress if party accepts me back: AAP MLA Alka Lamba

Alka Lamba, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA from Chandni Chowk, on Friday said that she has no hesitation in joining the Congress party if the party accepts her. “If Congress accepts me back, I will go… AAP has completely exposed its weaknesses by begging Congress for an alliance, not just in Delhi but also in Punjab and Haryana,” she told The Indian Express. She joined AAP in 2013 and won the Chandni Chowk seat in 2015. 

The Indian Express had reported on March 7 that 9 MLAs, including former AAP Minister Sandeep Kumar, were in touch with Delhi Congress and were planning to quit AAP and join the party. According to sources, Lamba has met some senior Delhi Congress leaders and a decision on her return is pending. Read more here

Bhim Army chief at a rally in Delhi's Jantar Mantar

Addressing a rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad said, "When I announced we will fight from Banaras, Modi could be seen washing feet of our brothers, we will not let BJP bloom a lotus with the blood of those brave jawans who lost their lives in Pulwama. Main neta nahi, bahujan ka beta banna chahta hun. Remember Rohit Vemula's sacrifice when you go out to vote."

Apna Dal to ally with BJP in UP

Just In: Apna Dal has entered into an alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party, it will contest on two seats in Uttar Pradesh. (ANI)

Rahul Gandhi on farmers' suicide in Bargarh

"Suicide of farmers is reported in the country daily as the Modi government did not keep its promises. It made tall claims about farmers' welfare. But it neither waived their loans, nor hiked the minimum support price of paddy," Gandhi said at a public meeting in Bargarh town of west Odisha. The Congress chief said farmers were committing suicide in this district as both the BJP-led government at the Centre and the BJD regime in the state had failed to address the problems of the peasants. (PTI)

What has Naveen Patnaik done for the youth of Odisha, asks Rahul Gandhi

Odisha has become the centre of unemployment. The youth of Odisha has to go out of the state to look for employment opportunities. What has Naveen Patnaik done for the youth of Odisha? What has Modi done for you? No one can claim that the CM and PM created jobs for them: Rahul Gandhi in Odisha

Congress wants to listen to you and wants to bring the India you want: Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi said, "Congress party wants to listen to you and wants to bring the India you want. Indian is like the ocean over here, We want to listen to, understand and to work with the ocean. Now, There is RSS and BJP who does not want to listen to people but to tell people about their ideologies. They don't want to listen to the ocean."

Modi Ji indulged in corruption and gave Rs 30,000 crore to Anil Ambani: Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi in Bargarh, Odisha: What has Naveen Patnaik done for the unemployed youth of Odisha? Is there anyone here who can say Naveen Patnaik or Narendra Modi gave them employment? But Modi Ji indulged in corruption and gave Rs 30,000 crore to Anil Ambani.

Watch | Rahul Gandhi addresses public meeting in Odisha

Congress president Rahul Gandhi is addressing a public meeting in Bargah, Odisha.

Congress MP from Haryana Arvind Sharma joins BJP

Former Congress MP from Haryana Arvind Sharma joins BJP in presence of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

Rahul Gandhi will address a public rally in Bargarh, Odisha shortly

Vadakkan is not a big leader: Rahul Gandhi

MK Stalin announces constituencies from where DMK will contest

DMK Chief MK Stalin Friday announced the constituencies from where the DMK will contest Lok Sabha elections 2019. "Constituencies from where DMK will contest include Thoothukudi, Chennai South, Chennai Central, Kanchipuram, Nilgiris, Pollachi. MDMK -Erode. Congress from Krishnagiri, Trichy, Theni, Puducherry. CPM- Coimbatore and Madurai, CPI- Tirupur and Nagapattinam," he said.

Mallikarjun Kharge writes letter to PM Modi on Lokpal

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge to boycott Lokpal Selection Committee meeting today. In a letter to PM said,  "A special invitee would not have rights of participation in the process of Lokpal and I cannot accept the opposition being made voiceless in this critical matter."

What is Chhattisgarh's Universal Healthcare Scheme?

Ayushman Bharat targets limited number of healthcare issues: Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi said, "Ayushman Bharat is a scheme targeting only a limited number of healthcare issues. It is a handout to the richest businessmen in India. My main criticism of Ayushman Bharat is, it gives insurance without a proper support structure from hospitals and medical professionals."

"In our manifesto, we are considering a Right to Healthcare Act, where we guarantee certain minimum healthcare to all Indians, increasing our expenditure to about 3% of GDP and increasing the number of healthcare professionals," he added.

Rahul Gandhi also said, "I view healthcare provision as something that is done by large number of stakeholders- ASHA workers, doctors and other medical professionals, businesses etc. Each stakeholder's territory should be defended."

Congress is committed to increasing health budget to 3 per cent: Rahul Gandhi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the Congress Party is considering Right to Healthcare Act as part of the party's manifesto for 2019. He also said that his party is committed to increasing health budget to 3 per cent in their manifesto.

Congress will allocate more for healthcare and education: Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi during his interaction with healthcare professionals in Raipur: Healthcare is, in a sense, a foundation. So, we've to ensure that the foundation is built firmly. Congress govt in 2019 is dramatically going to increase the amount of money we put into healthcare and education.

India is transitioning from a rural system to urban system: Rahul Gandhi in Raipur

Interacting with the health professionals in Raipur, Rahul Gandhi said, "India is transitioning from a rural system to urban system. There is a massive shift that is taking place. It's a traumatic shift."

Rahul Gandhi arrives at Raipur airport

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has arrived at raipur airport.

Rahul Gandhi had last visited Bargarh in 2015

Odisha Congress chief and Chhattisgarh minister T S Singh Deo visited the venue of Gandhi's meeting on Thursday and oversaw the preparedness. Gandhi had last visited Bargarh in 2015. The Congress president is likely to raise issues related to agriculture, the sources said. Gandhi had visited Odisha's Koraput on March 8, where he promised to ensure passage of the Women's Reservation Bill in Parliament if Congress returned to power.

BJP CEC meeting to be held tomorrow

BJP Central Election Committee (CEC) meeting will be held tomorrow.

Rahul Gandhi in Raipur today to speak at a convention on Universal Healthcare

Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Raipur today to speak at a convention on Universal Healthcare held by the Mayaram Surjan Foundation.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to take river route from Prayagraj to Varanasi

Congress general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, will kick-start her campaign in the state by taking the river route from Prayagraj to Varanasi to reach out to the members of the backward communities who live in the area. She was supposed to be in Lukcnow on Friday but the plans were postponed. Read More

Priyanka Gandhi visit: Bhim Army signals may fight SP-BSP

In a move that could come as a setback for the BSP with weeks to go for the Lok Sabha elections, the Bhim Army is planning to put up its own candidates or support those who are not part of the SP-BSP alliance in seats where the “gathbandhan is not strong enough” in UP. At the same time, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad has confirmed that he will contest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi this time. The outfit will also put up a candidate against another high-profile BJP leader, Union Minister Smriti Irani, Chandrashekhar told The Indian Express. Read More

Lok Sabha polls: Mayawati to announce BSP candidates after consulting SP

Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati on Thursday finalised the party candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and gave final shape to the party plans at a meeting with its senior state and divisional level office-bearers. A statement released from the BSP office after the meeting said the announcement of names and implementation of decisions taken at the meeting would take place after a discussion with the top leadership of its alliance partner, Samajwadi Party (SP). Read More

Lok Sabha polls: SP, BSP, RLD joint rallies from April 7

The grand alliance of the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is all set to kick off its joint rallies on April 7 in Deoband town, Saharanpur district. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, BSP supremo Mayawati and RLD leader Ajit Singh will address about half a dozen public meetings in western UP constituencies. Read More

Manmohan wasn’t as strong as Modi: Remarks twisted, more a poll gimmick, says Sheila Dikshit

Former Delhi Chief Minister and Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit stoked a controversy on Monday during an interview, where she spoke about former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s response to terrorism during his tenure. Dikshit, in an interview with journalist Vir Sanghvi, said, “Manmohan Singh’s… yes, I agree with you, wasn’t as strong as and as determined as he (Modi) is perhaps, but then there is also the feeling that he is doing it all for politics, not that he wants to, not out of the sense of…” Read full story

Wait for Congress tickets in Punjab gets longer as party postpones CEC meet

The wait of the Congress candidates for tickets for the Lok Sabha election in Punjab just got longer with party postponing the Central Election Committee (CEC) meet for the state where the elections are to be held in the last phase on May 19. The meeting was earlier scheduled for March 16. Now, the party will not hold the meeting before mid-April, Congress general secretary incharge Asha Kumari told the Indian Express. “We will need central leadership for the meeting. For now it has been put on hold,” she said. Read More

West Bengal: Three Congress MLAs resign, to contest LS polls on TMC tickets

Three Congress MLAs who joined the Trinamool Congress last year tendered their resignations to the Assembly Speaker on Thursday as they are planning to contest the Lok Sabha polls on TMC tickets. Abu Taher Khan, Kanaia Lal Agarwal and Apurba Sarkar had earlier not resigned as Congress legislators, despite being expelled by the party. Read More

New irritant in Ashok Gehlot-Sachin Pilot ties: ticket for CM’s son

As the Congress prepares its candidate list for the Lok Sabha elections, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is hoping for political launch of his son, Vaibhav Gehlot, currently a state unit general secretary. Vaibhav’s name is being quietly pushed from multiple Lok Sabha seats, in a bid to imply his popularity. These include Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, which has a good number of Gujjar, Mali and minority votes; Jodhpur, Gehlot’s home turf, where he is an MLA from Sardarpura; and a third place visited by Gehlot over the weekend, Jalore. Read More

Supreme Court hears plea today by 21 parties seeking VVPAT verification of 50% votes

The Supreme Court will on Friday hear a plea by leaders of 21 political parties seeking a direction to the Election Commission to randomly verify at least 50 per cent votes using voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs) in the upcoming elections. The matter has been listed before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. Read More

Decision 2019: 15 BSP leaders cross over, BJP chipping away at UP alliance

With less than a month to go for the Lok Sabha polls, and just two months after the BSP announced a seat-sharing tie-up with the SP in UP, at least 15 prominent leaders of the Mayawati-led party has switched to the BJP, including 11 who have contested on its symbol in state and general elections.

Across the state, which goes to polls in seven phases starting April 11, 28 leaders from different Opposition parties, also including the SP, RLD and Congress, have joined the BJP over the last month. But BSP leaders form a clear majority in that group, with at least one admitting that his move was aimed at securing a ticket from his constituency. Read More

Rahul Gandhi in Kerala: ‘Modi tells country what he thinks, Congress wants to listen to the people’

Kickstarting the Congress campaign in Kerala, party president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that a Prime Minister’s job is not to tell the nation his mann ki baat but to listen to the mann ki baat of every citizen. Read More

Rahul Gandhi will interact with health professionals in Raipur

Welcome to the live blog. After campaigning in Tamil Nadu and Kerala on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, Congress president Rahul Gandhi is going to visit Chhattisgarh and Odisha today. Follow this space to track the campaign of major political parties in the race of Lok Sabha Elections 2019.

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Lok Sabha Elections 2019 LIVE updates: In Chennai on Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi reiterated Congress' support to the long-standing issue of Women’s Reservation Bill. (File)

Lok Sabha Elections 2019 LIVE updates: Rahul Gandhi said his party does not want to impose anything on India. “Congress wants to listen to the people. Congress is the instrument of listening to the people of India… India is like an ocean, we want to listen to the ocean, understand it and work with it. On the other side, there is the BJP, RSS and Narendra Modi. They want to tell everyone in the country that their ideology is truth.”

In Chennai on Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi reiterated Congress' support to the long-standing issue of Women’s Reservation Bill. He also said the UPA will reserve 33 per cent seats for women in central government jobs if voted to power in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. “Not just in Parliament and state legislatures, Congress will reserve 33 per cent of all posts and vacancies for women in central govt, central govt organisations and CPSUs. We also want to increase the expenditure on education (in the budget) and are discussing with the manifesto committee to make it 6 per cent.”

Meanwhile, the wait of the Congress candidates for tickets for the Lok Sabha election in Punjab just got longer with party postponing the Central Election Committee (CEC) meet for the state where the elections are to be held in the last phase on May 19. The meeting was earlier scheduled for March 16. Now, the party will not hold the meeting before mid-April, Congress general secretary incharge Asha Kumari told the Indian Express. “We will need central leadership for the meeting. For now it has been put on hold,” she said.