Live Updates

India election 2019: latest updates

By Helen Regan, Nikhil Kumar, Manveena Suri, Sugam Pokharel, Swati Gupta and James Griffiths, CNN
6:09 a.m. ET, April 19, 2019
6:08 a.m. ET, April 19, 2019

It's Gandhi against Gandhi and Gandhi in Kerala’s Wayanad

From CNN's Anshula Raj

Voters in Kerala's Wayanad constituency are going to have plenty of Gandhis to choose from when they go to polls on April 23.

Out of the 20 contesting candidates, three are namesakes of Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty.

Rahul Gandhi K E, Raghul Gandhi K, and K M Sivaprasad Gandhi are the other three men who will be competing against the leader of India’s main opposition party, Congress.

The more famous Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s main opponent, is contesting elections from two seats, one from his traditional seat in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh Kerala's Wayanad -- which he chose during this election cycle.

The idyllic district set among the mountains in India’s southern state of Kerala is set to receive more attention than it has ever received before.

In a statement, Gandhi said that he is contesting from the southern state to illustrate the importance of South India -- which critics say does not receive as much attention from the central government compared to states in the Hindu heartland.

6:09 a.m. ET, April 19, 2019

India suspends cross-border trade with Pakistan

From CNN's Swati Gupta

India has suspended cross-border trade across its de-facto border with Pakistan in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Ministry of Home Affairs said Thursday.

The suspension, which took effect on Friday, will shut down trade for four days every week. It was not clear for how long the suspension would last.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the government had been receiving reports that trade routes across the Line of Control were "being misused by the Pakistan based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency.”

Leaders in Kashmir criticized the move as an opportunistic ploy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government at the expense of peace in the state.

Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, tweeted that the state had been asking for full truck scanners at trade points to stop illegal activity, but "rather than install the scanners the Govt has taken the regressive & highly unfortunate step of throwing the baby out with the bath water."

The suspension of trade comes exactly three months after the deadly Pulwama terror attack in Kashmir that killed 40 Indian soldiers and escalated tensions between India and Pakistan.

“It has been revealed that the trade has changed its character to mostly third party trade, and products from other regions including foreign countries, are finding their way through this route. Unscrupulous and anti-national elements are using the route as a conduit for Hawala (black) money, drugs and weapons, under the garb of this trade,” said the ministry statement.

Two crossings on the Kashmir border will be affected by the latest order.

2:05 a.m. ET, April 19, 2019

How one of India's biggest airlines imploded

From CNN's Rishi Iyengar

Jet Airways struggled in the face of increasing competition, a volatile currency and higher oil prices.

Almost 26 years to the day after its first flight, one of India's biggest airlines has thrown in the towel.

Jet Airways announced late Wednesday that it was indefinitely suspending all flights after it ran out of cash, marking a swift downfall for an airline that dominated India's fast-growing aviation industry for years.

What happened?

Airline founder Naresh Goyal began operating Jet Airways in 1993 after India liberalized its economy, and over the next two decades he grew it into one of India's top airlines.

But as millions more Indians started taking to the skies, newer players like SpiceJet and IndiGo burst onto the scene providing no-frills flights that were cheaper alternatives than Jet Airways.

Foreign carriers also offered stiff competition on international routes, and government taxes on fuel added to costs.

Despite posting mounting losses and racking up debt reportedly worth $1.2 billion, Jet Airways clung on. 

Until now.

Read Rishi Iyengar's full story here.

2:07 a.m. ET, April 19, 2019

Thursday's poll saw a voter turnout of 66%

From CNN's Swati Gupta

Voting concluded for the second phase of India’s general elections Thursday. An estimated 158 million people, including 78 million women, were eligible to vote.

Some 176,000 polling stations were set up in a total of 95 constituencies across 11 states and one union territory.

The tentative turn out by poll close at 5 p.m. was 66% across all constituencies, according to the Election Commission. The tiny territory of Puducherry scored the highest turn out with 78%.

India’s elections have been split across seven phases, with the last poll on May 19. Fourteen states and union territories have now concluded voting.

The first vote on April 11 saw a voter turnout of 69.4%, with 68% of eligible male voters turning out, 68.53% of women.

The next date to watch is April 23, when India goes to the polls for the third phase.

9:17 a.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Woman accused in terror case will stand for BJP

From CNN's Swati Gupta

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) announced the candidature of a woman accused in a terror case to one of its most coveted seats in the Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

This is the first time a political party has nominated someone who has been accused of terror activities, signaling a shift in the political rhetoric of the Hindu nationalist BJP.

Pragya Thakur is suspected of orchestrating the bomb blast that took six lives and injured 101 people in Malegaon in 2008. She is currently out on bail and is also running in the parliamentary elections on a BJP ticket.

The bomb blast took place in the city of Malegaon in Maharashtra when an improvised explosive device hidden in a motorcycle was detonated in a predominantly Muslim area.

Pragya Thakur (in orange) is seen after a meeting at a state BJP office on April 17 in Bhopal, India.

Thakur, who is also known as Sadhvi Pragya, was arrested along with 11 other accused and charged by the Anti-Terror Squad for murder, terrorism, arms possession among other charges.

The BJP state unit tweeted its support for Thakur. “These elections will now be a battle of religious ideologies. On one side is a man who has labelled Hindus as terrorists and on the other side is the true follower of Hindu religion, Sadhvi Pragya,” said the statement.

BJP’s move to induct Thakur into its cadre has received criticism from all sides. She is being challenged by Digvijay Singh, a veteran politician with the Congress party.

The National Investigation Agency dropped the charges it had filed against her though Thakur is still to face trial under other charges.

“I have been given a clean chit. Whatever conspiracies were hatched against me, they have failed,” said Thakur to reporters Wednesday.

Bhopal has elected leaders from the BJP since the late 80s and is considered one of the safest seats in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

However, after the rout BJP faced last year in the state elections, local administration is working hard to not allow Congress to gain momentum in the national elections as well.

6:07 a.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Election Commission encourages voters in "Game of Thrones" style

From CNN's Anshula Raj

“Winter is here" and so are the Indian elections. The Election Commission of India is using HBO’s hit TV series “Game of Thrones” to urge people to come out and vote during the second phase of the poll.

EC is asking voters to use the hashtag #GotInked and take a selfie with their indelible-ink stained finger.

A few days ago Congress, the main opposition party, used a GOT reference to mock the rival Prime Minister and his Bharatiya Janata Party.

6:00 a.m. ET, April 18, 2019

What's the deal with the tiny union territory of Puducherry?

From CNN's Swati Gupta

Puducherry, an administrative territory on India's southeast coast, is heading to polls today.

Known as a union territory, Puducherry is one of seven across India. But it's only one of two -- including New Delhi -- that has been provided a special status and can elect its own legislative assembly.

However, all of its administration is largely controlled by the federal government.

Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry, is a former French exclave. It was formed out of the four former colonies of French India in 1962.

The region provides one seat to the Indian Parliament and has a population of over 250,000.

In the general elections held in 2014, the territory had set up over 900 polling stations and 740,000 votes were cast.

The other six union territories are western Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Chandigarh -- capital of the northern states of Punjab and Haryana -- NCT Delhi, the tropical archipelago of Lakshadweep, and the Andman and Nicobar Islands far out in the Andaman Sea.

5:07 a.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Voter turnout in Uttar Pradesh 38.9% at 1 p.m.

Key election battleground Uttar Pradesh (UP) posted an average 38.94% voter turnout for the state as of 1 p.m.

Eight seats are up for grabs in UP today, though the state accounts for 80 seats in the Lok Sabha.

UP is where Indian elections are won and lost.

At 200 million, it is India's most populous state, and if it were a country it would be the fifth largest on the planet. Due to the state's size, voting is spread across all seven stages.

4:57 a.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Centenarians among those voting in India's election

From CNN's Manveena Suri

Senior citizens were among those traveling to polling stations to cast their ballot across the country today ...

--- and among some of the more seasoned voters were centenarians.

100-year-old Wangkheimayum Bhanu came out to vote in Manipur state.

108-year-old Dharam Singh cast his vote in the town of Thathri, in Jammu and Kashmir's Doda district, according to state broadcaster DD News.

And Vaman Bhairav Pande, who's 102, cast his vote in Maharashtra state.

Polling stations in Odisha were manned with volunteers ready to lend a helping hand.