New Delhi: Polling for the first phase of the high-pitched Lok Sabha election concluded on Thursday with West Bengal recording a voter turnout of 81 per cent and Bihar 50 per cent. The Election Commission this time, however, did not share the overall polling percentage. India now awaits for the second phase polling scheduled to take place on April 18. Votes for all 543 seats would be counted on May 23 after the end of the seven-phase polling on May 19. An estimated 1.5 crore young voters in the age group of 18-19 years would vote for the first time across the seven phases.
Political parties continued their rallies across the country. PM Modi will address rallies in Maharashtra, Karnataka's Gangavathi and Kerala's Kozhikode while Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will campaign in Tamil Nadu's Theni. DMK president M K Stalin is also expected to join Rahul in the Theni rally.
Thanks for joining us. Please do come again on Saturday (April 13) for Lok Sabha live updates.
Here are the highlights from Friday (April 12):
* Taking on the Congress in the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency from where its party chief Rahul Gandhi is contesting, the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF organised a farmers' rally highlighting their "sorry plight" since the economic liberalisation of 1991.
* Actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha arrived in Patna on Friday on his first tour of his Lok Sabha constituency after quitting the BJP and joining the Congress and expressed confidence that he will retain the seat for a third time with a record margin.
* The Congress said on Friday that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was backtracking from the seat-sharing "pact" between the two parties by seeking its extension outside Delhi, and that the party would fight all the seven seats in the national capital alone if no agreement was reached.
* The Supreme Court said on Friday that it will hear on April 15 a contempt petition filed by BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi against Congress president Rahul Gandhi accusing him of misquoting an apex court in connection with the Rafale deal.
* BJP president Amit Shah urges Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel to allow a CBI probe in the death of BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi, who lost his life in Dantewada Naxal attack on April 9.
* A plea seeking directions to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to ban Jammu and Kashmir politicians Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti from participating in the Lok Sabha elections was `dismissed as withdrawn` by another bench of Delhi High Court on Friday.
* Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav says BJP dividing the society on the basis of caste and religion while 'Mahagathbandhan' was committed to removing hatred.
* Polling in Thursday's assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh, that went past midnight, stood at 76.69 per cent
* Delhi High Court dismisses a PIL seeking directions to Election Commission to ban Jammu and Kashmir politicians Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti from participating in the Lok Sabha elections.
* Aam Aadmi Party, Jannayak Janata Party announce alliance in Haryana for Lok Sabha election. Read full report
* AAP wanted to have an alliance in other states also which is not practical. Every state is different; we will announce the seats tomorrow or day after tomorrow. If they are ready for an alliance in Delhi with Congress, we are ready even today: PC Chacko
* Rahul Gandhi has crossed all limits by using such level of unparliamentary language for PM. He's chief of Congress's 'gaali gang.' Have demanded action be taken against his statements, which aren't based on facts: Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
* #WATCH Union Minister Smriti Irani: In the last 5 years, they have attacked me in every which way possible. I only have one message for them, the more you will insult me, the more you will attack me, the harder I will work against Congress in Amethi. pic.twitter.com/ag3R9JV4yL
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) April 12, 2019
* Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Krishnagiri: We will never ever let the people of Tamil Nadu be ruled by Nagpur. Tamil Nadu is going to be ruled from Tamil Nadu & MK Stalin is going to be the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. pic.twitter.com/GJlZ8qs3Lk
— ANI (@ANI) April 12, 2019
* Naxals claim the responsibility of the death of BJP MLA Bhima Mandawi killed in IED blast in Dantewada.
* The Gujarat High Court set-aside the election of BJP’s Dwarka MLA Pabubha Manek on Friday. The diktat came from the single-judge bench of Justice Paresh Upadhyay in an election petition filed by Congress leader Meraman Ahir challenging the seventh consecutive victory of Manek in the 2017 assembly elections from the Dwarka constituency.
The result of the election held in December 2017 was rejected after the court found that Manek had not mentioned the name of the constituency on his nomination form, which renders his nomination invalid and void.
* Veterans of Indian Armed Forces denied writing to President Ram Nath Kovind day after reports of a purported letter to Rashtrapati Bhavan on politicisation of the military went viral. A source in the Rashtrapati Bhavan also denied receiving any such letter. Read more here.
* दिल्ली के तुगलक रोड में मिल रही नोटों की गड्डियों से भरी बोरियां कांग्रेस की असली पहचान है: प्रधानमंत्री श्री नरेन्द्र मोदी #ModiHiAayega
— BJP (@BJP4India) April 12, 2019
* Remove Congress to eradicate poverty from the country: PM Modi
* After May 23, when Modi government will be formed again at the Centre, then from the Kisan Yojana, every farmer in the country will reap its benefits: PM
* आज स्वरोजगार के लिए करोड़ों युवा साथियों को बैंक से बिना गारंटी के लोन मिल रहा है तो उसके पीछे आपके वोट की ताकत है।
— BJP (@BJP4India) April 12, 2019
* Congress and NCP are standing with the people who think Jammu and Kashmir should be separated from India and there should be a different prime minister there: PM Modi in Ahmednagar.
* Meenakshi Lekhi moves SC against Rahul Gandhi’s comment on Rafale verdict.
* TMC candidate Mimi Chakraborty receives flak for wearing gloves while shaking hands with people; BJP calls it insult to voters. (Read full report)
* Supreme Court orders all parties to submit details of donors of electoral bonds in sealed covers by May 30.
* Rahul Gandhi is expected to campaign for the Theni Lok Sabha candidate EVKS Elangovan today. DMK president M K Stalin is also expected to attend the campaign.
* Senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and NCP's Vijaysinh Mohite Patil are set to join BJP.
* Supreme Court will today deliver its verdict on plea challenging the validity of electoral bond.
* A video clip of Congress leader Khushbu Sundar slapping a man over alleged misbehaviour during a rally in Bengaluru on Thursday has gone viral on social media. (Read full report)
— ஜனநாயகம் மலர வாக்களிப்போம் 'கை' சின்னத்தில் (@KosalramT) April 11, 2019
* Former union minister and Congress leader Shakeel Ahmad might contest from Madhubani parliamentary constituency in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.
* The Election Commission is scrutinising Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks in Maharashtra's Latur, asking first-time voters to elect those who carried out the Balakot air strike. Addressing a rally in Ausa in Maharashtra's Latur on April 9, Modi said, "Can your first vote be dedicated to those who carried out the air strike." Parties allege that Modi's speech violates the poll code.
"We have received the report. It is under examination," Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar told news agency PTI. Asked about the observations made by the district election officer, he said that cannot be disclosed.
*NCP chief Sharad Pawar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has failed to fulfil his 2014 pre-poll promise of recovering black money within 100 days of coming to power. He also criticised the BJP-led NDA government over its failure to clean the river Ganga. "The Prime Minister had promised that if he failed to recover black money in 100 days, he is ready for punishment of hanging in public.
"But the black money has not come out...So what happened to his promise?...Though we are not interested in hanging anyone in public," he said at a rally in Maharashtra's Kolhapur.
* Voting across 91 Lok Sabha seats spread over 20 states and Union Territories in the first phase of the seven-phase elections was largely peaceful, barring a few stray incidents, said the Election Commission on Thursday. The highest voting percentage was recorded in Tripura (81.8 per cent) followed by West Bengal (81 per cent). Bihar recorded lowest voting percentage with 50 per cent voters turning out followed by 56 per cent voting in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. The officials said that 70.67 per cent voting was recorded in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 66 per cent in Andhra Pradesh, 60 per cent in Telangana, 57.85 per cent in Uttarakhand, 58 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir, 69 per cent in Sikkim, 60 per cent in Mizoram, 78 per cent in Nagaland, 78.2 per cent in Manipur and 68 per cent in Assam. Uttar Pradesh recorded 63.69 per cent while in Lakshdweep, 66 per cent voteers exercised their franchise and Meghalaya recorded 67.16 polling.