Sam Pitroda's remark completely out of line, he must apologise: Rahul Gandhi

Umakant Sharma works the looms in Surat India

Asked if the BJP will be back with a full majority, he said, "BJP (organisation) is based on team".

"Regional parties will play a bigger role compared to the previous five years or even 15 years", said KC Suri, a political science professor at the University of Hyderabad.

Rahul Gandhi said former prime minister Manmohan Singh has already apologised and so has former Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the anti-Sikh riots.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah made a similar appeal, saying India needed a "strong government again". Bhopal candidate Digvijaya Singh had admitted that he could not go to Rajgarh to cast his vote and expressed regret. The area comes under the Contai Lok Sabha seat.In Jhargram, villagers recovered the body of a BJP booth-level worker on Saturday night hours before Lok Sabha elections commenced in the morning.

While the BJP campaigned in 2014 on promises to supercharge the economy, the tenor of its re-election campaign changed after a February suicide bombing in restive Kashmir, helping the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi turn the focus away from its uneven economic record and toward the stability it offered to confront terrorism.

The BJP numbers, however, pale in comparison to Prime Minister Narendra Modi social media presence.

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Modi also is unsparing in his criticism of Rahul Gandhi's great-grandfather and India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, blaming him for the country's border disputes with China and Pakistan and a lack of development while he was at the helm from 1947 to 1964.

But concern about unemployment and crop prices have put the BJP on the back foot, and the opposition has in recent days felt more upbeat about its chances.

A girl looks at an armed security person standing guard as her mother waits in a queue to cast her vote outside a polling station during the sixth phase of general election in Sepahijala district in the northeastern state of Tripura, India, May 12, 2019.

Gandhi said the agriculture loans of farmers in Madhya Pradesh, including the kin of former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, have been waived by the Congress government in the state. Modi recently effusively praised BJD chief Naveen Patnaik for the state's preparedness during a deadly cyclone.

They say he suffered a seizure, which caused his death. "It is very clear that the BJP government is going", the Congress leader said after voting this morning, along with her husband Robert Vadra.

Modi however exudes confidence about retaining his grip on power. Voting concludes on May 19 and counting is scheduled for May 23. Mayawati's BSP has emerged as the third-largest contender in this respect among all national parties, fighting in as many as 383 seats - far ahead of the CPI (M), which is at fourth place with candidates in 69 constituencies.

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