21:41 Javed Jafferi to take on Rajnath Singh:
Rajnath Singh, the president of the BJP, who is running for Parliament from Lucknow, has a new opponent as of today.
The Aam Aadmi Party has announced its candidate is actor-comedian and reality show judge Javed Jafferi.
The Congress candidate for Lucknow is Rita Bahuguna Joshi, the former president of the party in Uttar Pradesh. The ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh has picked Abhishek Mishra, a 37-year-old ex-IIM Ahmedabad faculty member with a PhD from Cambridge.
The 62-year-old chief of the BJP won the last national election from Ghaziabad, but this time around, he pushed for Lucknow, the capital India's largest state. The incumbent MP from there, Lalji Tandon, said he would not seek another constituency.Latest on elections: @RediffElections
21:23 Petrol price cut by 75 paise a litre; diesel hike put off:
The price of petrol was today cut by 75 paise per litre, the first reduction in five months, while the already unpopular monthly hike in diesel rates was put off during the election season.
The reduction, effective midnight tonight, excludes local sales tax or VAT and the actual cut will be higher, varying from city to city.
The price of petrol was last increased by 60 paise on March 1 and will cost Rs 72.26 a litre in Delhi, down 90 paise from Rs 73.16 at present. In Mumbai, the fuel will cost Rs 80.89 a litre against Rs 82.07 currently.
Indian Oil Corp, the nation's largest oil firm, said since the last revision in petrol prices, there has been a dip in international oil rates and the rupee has strengthened against the dollar.
20:33 Vote for change, vote for Modi, says Advani:
Days after ending the row over his parliamentary seat that brought to fore strains in his relations with Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party veteran L K Advani on Monday kicked off the campaign for Lok Sabha polls, saying the party's PM nominee would revive the process of development started by Atal Behari Vajpayee.
"Vote for Modi, vote for change," Advani said, addressing his maiden campaign rally for the ensuing polls at Shevgaon for sitting BJP MP Dinesh Gandhi.
"The nation needs and expects action and not mere slogans. So, vote for change, vote for Modi," he said.
Modi changed the face of Gujarat through the Narmada project, industrialisation and providing water to every farmer, besides improving electric supply, education, public distribution system and the law and order situation, he said.
Vajpayee and the NDA had tried its best to fulfil every commitment, right from the Pokharan nuclear test to providing basic amenities, he said.
19:50 March salary for Sahara staff may get delayed:
Under pressure from a long-running investor refund battle with Sebi, the Sahara group has informed its staff that their salaries may get delayed due to prevailing adverse situation, including attachment of its bank accounts.
The group is working hard to normalise things despite adverse conditions, it said, adding that staff salaries for March, 2014, scheduled to be released tomorrow, may get delayed because of "unforeseen reasons".
In a circular, Sahara India Pariwar's Chief General Manager (HR) Gaurav Sharma has told all business divisions and department heads to inform workers in their respective divisions and departments about the delay and urge them "to stay united in this challenging phase".
The Sahara group has been fighting a long-running battle with markets regulator Sebi over refund to investors from which two group entities had raised over Rs 24,000 crore through issuance of certain bonds.
19:43 Rashid Alvi writes to Sonia; wants to take on Modi in Varanasi:
Senior Congress leader Rashid Alvi on Monday joined the party men who have offered to contest against Bharatiya Janata Partys prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi from Varanasi Lok Sabha seat.
"For the first time, the idea of secular India is under threat.... I would request you to permit me to contest against Modi from Benares", Alvi, a former AICC spokesman, said in a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi.
AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh had also offered to contest against Modi in Varanasi so also Union Minister Anand Sharma.
Expressing confidence that this illustrious city would support him to strengthen the secular Indian values, Alvi said the "victory of Congress will be the victory of India".
Noting that Varanasi still upholds the values of Indian subcontinent, he said that it has played a crucial role in forging Indian plural identity. "It belongs to both Hindus, Muslims, Jains and Buddhists. Mughal emperors used to visit Banaras to learn from the learned Brahmins".
Talk is that Congress could finally settle for a local candidate to take on Narendra Modi in Varanasi.
18:06 Modi represents crony capitalism, big businesses support him: FM:
Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Monday hit out at Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP, saying he represented "crony capitalism" and big businesses which liked it, supported him.
"Modi is associated with crony capitalists. Big businesses which are comfortable with the idea support him," he said.
The Finance Minister sought to present a rosy picture of the economy under the UPA regime.
"The year will end with a fiscal deficit of 4.6 per cent as planned. The current account deficit is much smaller, perhaps about USD 35 billion. The economy is stable. No one talks about the downgrade anymore. Our biggest success has been in containing the fiscal deficit. We have moderated inflation, but there is some distance to go. The economy today is far more stable and stronger than it was three years ago," Chidambaram said.
Taking a dig at opposition BJP, Chidambaram said that Indian economy was at its worst during 2000-2002 when Yashwant Sinha was the Finance Minister.
17:53 AAP nominee against Khurshid quits, claims corruption in party:
In a setback to the fledgling Aam Aadmi Party, its Farukhabad candidate against Union minister Salman Khurshid on Monday withdrew from the contest and resigned from the party alleging "corruption" in the outfit.
"I have returned the ticket and left the party as I am not getting any support from the organisation... There is corruption in the internal organisation," journalist-turned- politician Mukul Tripathi, who was the party's nominee from Farukhabad in Uttar Pradesh, told PTI.
"The Lok Sabha election in-charge there (in Farukhabad) used to tell me that you have to use "takat" (strength) and source to get party leaders for campaigning in the segment. He advised me to use 'jugad' to get the dates of party leaders," Tripathi alleged.
17:24 Modi to address rally on Jaswant's turf:
BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will be addressing a rally in Barmer on April 12 as poll pitch intensifies for this seat after the entry of expelled BJP veteran Jaswant Singh into the race disturbed caste equations there.
While Modi will be addressing a rally at Pachpadra Assembly constituency here, Congress is also planning a public meeting for its Vice President Rahul Gandhi, though date and location have not been finalised so far.
The campaigning in Barmer comes to an end on April 14 evening. Polling is on April 17.
The election is being seen as 'mooch ki ladai (prestige battle)' between Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who wants to go all guns blazing against expelled BJP veteran after he refused to bow to the party's wish of fielding Sona Ram
Choudhary, and Singh, a nine-time MP.
Choudhary, a three-time Congress MP, changed sides barely days before getting the BJP ticket. Raje has already visited the constituency twice in one week.Latest on elections: @RediffElections
17:19 No Modi apology on 2002 riots: Jaitley:
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley today ruled out an apology from Narendra Modi on the 2002 riots, saying he does not have to do it to satisfy a "fake campaign" against him.
"Those asking for an apology wanted the apology to be an act of confession. If he has actually committed a mistake why apologise, he should have been prosecuted and punished for it. We can squabble over the kind of expressions one wants to use... to satisfy a fake campaign he does not have to apologise," Jaitley said in an interaction with foreign journalists in Delhi.
Perceived as a close confidante of the BJP's PM candidate, he said Modi is certainly "concerned" about the violence and about putting in a system in place so the riots are not repeated.
The Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha said all Gujaratis, including Muslims have prospered, under Modi's rule and these voices demanding an apology are not coming from within the state. "These are coming from these campaigns," he said.
17:13 Congress fighting for secularism: Sonia:
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday said this election is not just about development and her party is fighting for safeguarding the secular values enshrined in the Constitution.
"This election is not only about the development of country. This election is to safeguard the constitutional framework which our freedom fighters, our forefathers have bestowed on us after much struggle and sufferings.
"This Constitution recognises our secular values and teaches us how to respect them," she said addressing a rally in Mewat, Haryana, in a veiled attack on BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Gandhi went on to say that Congress will fight for a country which is not just for a few but a country which belongs to everyone and where everyone enjoys equal rights.Latest on elections: @RediffElections
17:11 Mine mafia running government in Odisha: Rahul:
Accusing the Biju Janata Dal government in Odisha of hijacking the credit for the work done through the welfare programmes of UPA government, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday claimed the state is ruled by "mine mafia" and not by the people's representatives.
"The state government is run by the mine mafia and not by leaders. Valuable minerals worth thousands of crore rupees are looted and state government is aware about it," Gandhi alleged at a public meeting at Semiliguda in the tribal-dominated Koraput district.
"Though the Centre sends thousands of crores for the welfare of tribals, the amount is not reaching the beneficiaries at the village level. The state government is diverting central funds and taking credit without any justification," he said.
While a handful of mafia loot mineral resources of Odisha and become rich, the poor and tribal people do not get any benefit, Gandhi said.
17:11 Jaswant complains against Raje; poll authorities dismiss it:
Expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh has accused chief minister Vasundhara Raje of misusing religious places for political activities in Barmer, a complaint found baseless by the district administration.
Singh, who is contesting from Barmer Lok Sabha seat as an Independent candidate, filed a complaint on the matter with the district election officer there on Saturday.
Speaking to reporters in Jaisalmer, Singh claimed that Raje has been visiting various religious places in the constituency and using them for political activities.
The former Union minister said he has also demanded from the election department to add Raje's cost of travelling by a helicopter for visiting the constituency to the election expense of BJP candidate from Barmer, Sonaram Choudhary.
14:50 Sabir Ali files defamation case against Naqvi:
Former Janata Dal leader Sabir Ali has filed a defamation case against Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi for his alleged remarks on him, reports said on Monday.
Ali, whose membership in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was cancelled, on Saturday said people like BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi were keeping the party disconnected from the Muslims.
On the BJP cancelling his membership, Ali said, "It is their decision and I don't want to comment on this."
Earlier, Ali had written a letter to the BJP unit of Bihar asking them to put his membership on hold till party leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi's allegations on him are cleared.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi opposed the induction of expelled Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Sabir Ali into the party on grounds that he has been named as one of the accused in the murder of music mogul Gulshan Kumar and was a friend of Indian Mujahideen chief Yasin Bhatkal.
On Friday, directly attacking Ali, Naqvi had tweeted "Terrorist Bhatakal friend join BJP, soon accepting Dawood".
14:49 India to hand over 17 fishermen to Lankan Navy on Tuesday:
Indian Coast Guard will hand over 17 Sri Lankan fishermen released from jail and their 10 boats to Sri Lankan Navy at the international maritime boundary line on Tuesday.
This move comes after President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapakse ordered the release of Indian fishermen who had been detained for poaching on Friday.
Rajapakse asked officials to immediately release all fishermen who had been arrested for allegedly violating the island's territorial waters.
It was a goodwill gesture Rajapakse as India had abstained from voting for the US-backed resolution seeking probe into Sri Lankan war crimes at the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday.
14:48 Congress conspiring against AAP just like BJP: Somnath Bharti:
Meanwhile, reacting to National Human Rights Commission's directions to Delhi police to take action against Former Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti, the latter on Monday said that Congress was behind the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) just like the BJP and therefore all this was a conspiracy of the party.
"Congress is behind our party just like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). They are politicizing issues like drug scandals. I don't what exactly was Shehzad Poonawala's complaint is. I do not even know what allegations have been put against me by the police. But I have a lot of respect for NHRC," said Bharti.
"Whatever NHRC says, it cannot go beyond the FIR and therefore an investigation has to be done to know the truth. I appeal them to go to the public and ask people if there was any violation of law," he said.
13:48 Sonia to file nomination from Rae Bareli on April 2:
Congress President Sonia Gandhi will file her nomination papers for the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat on April 2, party sources said today.
Gandhi who will be seeking re-election from the seat, will be accompanied by party's Vice President and her son, Rahul Gandhi when she arrives here for filing her nomination papers.
Her daughter and in-charge of the constituency Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her husband Robert Vadra are also expected to join her, they said.
13:18 Sonia, Rahul should be stripped, sent back to Italy: BJP MLA:
In an abusive comment, a BJP MLA has threatened to strip Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi, and send them back to Italy if his party comes to power.
Addressing a rally in Rajasthan's Tonk constituency, Heeralal Regar said: "Sonia and Rahul Gandhi should be stripped off their clothes and sent back to Italy."
Taking note of Regar's comments, the Congress party has complained to the Election Commission.
However, speaking to a news channel, Regar he apologised for his remark, but added he has been misquoted. "I have not taken any name. If anyone is hurt by my comments, I apologise," Regar said.
The incident comes days after the BJP urged the Election Commission to take action against Congress' Saharanpur nominee Imran Masood over a purported anti-Narendra Modi speech. Latest on elections: @RediffElections
12:52 CBI traps Modi's man accepting Rs 10 lakh bribe:
In a big embarrassment to BJP's prime ministerial candidate the CBI on Saturday arrested Ganesh Malviya, the co-convener of Narendra Modi's election cell.
He was caught along with his wife, Poonam Rai, deputy commissioner of income tax, while accepting a bribe of Rs 10 lakh.
When CBI laid a trap for Malviya, the agency, ironically, was acting on a complaint of another state BJP leader, Rajesh Bhadoria, convener of cultural cell of the state BJP unit.
Malviya's wife, an IRS officer, had allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs 25 lakh from Bhadoria, who also owns Ramayan Constructions, to correct discrepancies in his firm's I-T returns, a CBI official said.
12:50 4 IIT students on their way to celebrate placements die in an accident:
CNN-IBN reports: Four IIT-Delhi students have died and two others suffered injuries in a fatal accident on Sunday morning.
The incident took place near Jaisalmer, when the Innova in which they were travelling, overturned.
All the four students were final year students. They were on a road trip to Rajasthan to celebrate their placements.
12:46 Musharraf charged in treason case:
A court in Pakistan has charged former military ruler Pervez Musharraf with treason, the first army chief to face such a prosecution.
Musharraf is accused of unlawfully suspending the constitution and instituting emergency rule in 2007.
He pleaded not guilty and has always claimed that the charges against him are politically motivated. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
President from 2001 to 2008, he was one of Pakistan's longest-serving rulers.
He went into self-imposed exile in 2008, returning to Pakistan in March 2013.
He had hoped to lead his party into elections, but was disqualified from standing and found himself fighting an array of charges relating to his time in power.
11:44 Modi needs to be treated in mental hospital: Sharad Pawar:
In a scathing attack, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said Narendra Modi needs to be "treated in a mental hospital for talking rubbish".
"Modi must have deranged as he talks rubbish things and he is needed to be treated in a mental hospital," the Union Agriculture Minister said at a rally at Ghanswangi, while campaigning for NCP candidate Vijay Bhamble.
He said Modi does not know about the sacrifices of Congress leaders in the freedom struggle.
"Modi is talking about Congress Mukt Bharat. Whether Modi knows the sacrifice and contribution of Congress in freedom struggle? Because of Congress' ideology, we got freedom," Pawar said.
Attacking Modi for 2002 Gujarat riots, Pawar said, "Members of minority community and Congress ex-MP Ahsan Jaffari were killed in Gulbarga society, which is only 20 km from Ahmedabad where the carnage happened, but Modi neither visited the victims' family nor bothered about them."
He said Modi is "dangerous for the country." Latest on elections: @RediffElections
11:41 BJP's deadline for TDP on sealing seat-sharing deal in AP ends today:
BJP's 24-hour deadline to the Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party over sharing of seats for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh ends on Monday.
Senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu had on Sunday indicated that the BJP will go alone in the polls if the TDP fails to spell out its stand within 24 hours.
Admitting that a stalemate in talks continues with TDP on seat sharing in both Telangana and Seemandhra, Venkaiah said the party's central elections committee will meet on Monday in New Delhi to decide the future course of action.
Venkaiah said the BJP cannot wait inordinately on its future course of action.
"As per the information I have received there seems to be some sort of a stalemate (over talks with TDP). And we cannot wait indefinitely," he said.
Venkaiah said the state committee of Telangana has been asked to make its recommendations by Monday when the BJP's central committee will be meeting in the national capital.
11:39 Kailash Mansarovar yatra to begin on June 8:
The annual 'Kailash Mansarovra Yatra' will begin on June 8 after the medical examination of the travellers in Delhi, officials said on Monday.
The journey will begin with the gathering of certified travellers. They will be examined at the Indo-Tibetan Border Police base hospital in the national capital and move to Uttarakhand on June 12.
The travellers will pay their fees and complete other formalities during their stay in Delhi.
The Ministry of External Affairs has cleared 18 groups of 60 members each for the journey. The groups will first reach Kathgodam town, then proceed to Almora town in Uttarakhand.
Their medical tests would again be conducted at Gunji village in Uttarakhand, ITBP officials told a news agency. The ITBP 7th battalion has been assigned the task of conducting the trip.
11:38 Advani to address rally in Ahmednagar today:
BJP leader LK Advani will address a rally in Ahmednagar on Monday as the star campaigner begins canvassing for Lok Sabha elections, days after the row over his choice of seat.
Advani will campaign for sitting Ahmednagar MP Dinesh Gandhi, who said, "During the last two general elections, it was Advaniji who started my campaign. I am glad that he acceded to my request this time as well.
"He will be delivering his first election address for my campaign, and I am sure this will benefit me a lot."
This will be the BJP veteran's first major poll-related engagement after his latest stand-off with the party's central election committee over Lok Sabha seat.
Advani reportedly wanted to contest election from Bhopal, and not his Gandhinagar seat from where he has been elected as an MP five times, but the BJP shot down his wish and told him to contest from his traditional seat.
Advani later announced that he will contest from Gandhinagar. Latest on elections: @RediffElections
11:37 NHRC directs Delhi Police to take action against Somnath Bharti:
In more trouble for the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party, the National Human Rights Commission on Monday directed the Delhi Police to take action against former Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti for leading a midnight raid at the residence of African nationals in New Delhi's Khirki Extension.
According to reports, activist-lawyer Shehzad Poonawala had petitioned against AAP leader Bharti in connection with the case.
A judicial probe had already indicted former Delhi law minister for his action.
Bharti had gone to Khirki Extension with a group of party volunteers and local residents where he claimed that a drug and prostitution ring was being run by some Ugandan women.
Bharti had initially asked the police to raid the house. When the police refused saying they did not have warrant to do so, he led the mob on the raid.