NEW DELHI  -  India has entered full election mode: voting is due to begin on 11 April, with the final ballot cast more than five weeks later on 19 May. Every day, the BBC will be bringing you all the latest updates on the twists and turns of the world’s largest democracy. Facebook has announced that it has removed more than 600 pages linked to India’s main opposition Congress party.

“While the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our review found that it was connected to individuals associated with an INC (Indian National Congress) IT Cell,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, said in a statement, quoted by the Reuters news agency.

A statement from the company also said it had removed 15 pages linked to Silver Touch, an Indian IT firm that has in the past been connected to the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Coming a day after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asked governments to do more to stop the spread of fake news, this move is intended to show that the social media platform is taking the problem seriously.

The fact that it has targeted so many pages belonging to the Congress is also significant from a political point of view. For one, the announcement has come days before the country begins voting in general elections on 11 April. Secondly, the BJP is considered more social media savvy, and its supporters have often been linked to vicious trolling and slander against the party’s critics and opponents. Being called out so publicly is not only humiliating for the Congress, but also gives the BJP the moral high ground.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often said that he is being targeted in a campaign of hate by his political opponents and this is likely to help him buttress his claim. India’s main opposition Congress party announced that its president Rahul Gandhi would contest the general election from two seats.

Apart from his traditional constituency of Amethi in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Mr Gandhi will also now compete from Wayanad in the southern state of Kerala. Congress leader AK Antony made the announcement on Sunday. “This is a message to the southern states that they are deeply valued and respected,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep told PTI news agency.

In what appeared to be a dig at governing BJP party, he added that this was “a fight” against “forces” that attacked and sought to divide “cultures, ways of life and the deep connect between north and south India”.

Some analysts say this could also be part of a wider strategy to rejuvenate the party’s base in the south, which has been dominated by regional parties for decades. Mr Gandhi has made several trips to the south in recent months and is seen as more popular in Tamil Nadu and Kerala than Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.

“Rahul Gandhi is actually trying to demonstrate that he - as a candidate poised to be the next prime minister of India - enjoys electability in both north and south India,” Shashi Tharoor, Congress leader and MP from Kerala, said on Sunday. “It’s a swipe at Narendra Modi, who we all know has absolutely no chance of winning in the south.”

Wayanad is considered a “safe seat” for Congress. BBC Hindi’s Imran Qureshi says that the Congress already has a strong presence in the Wayanad constituency, adding that this was partly due to the high percentage of Muslims and Christians in the region.

“The Congress stand on women entering the Sabarimala temple, where they advocated for ‘tradition’ but still did not indulge in violence is also expected to help him here,” he says.

Mr Gandhi’s opponents speculate if this bid means he is unsure of actually winning his family stronghold, Amethi. In the 2014 general election, he won the seat despite a spirited campaign by BJP candidate Smriti Irani. But his margin of victory - which was a little over 100,000 votes - was seen as too close. Ms Irani is set to contest from Amethi again.

In the Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections in 2017, the BJP won four out of five seats which fell under the Amethi constituency.