NEW DELHI - India is in full election mode: voting began on 11 April, and the final ballot will be cast on 19 May with results out on 23 May. Every day, the BBC will be bringing you all the latest updates on the twists and turns of the world’s largest democracy.

India’s main opposition Congress party president Rahul Gandhi has “unconditionally apologised” to the country’s Supreme Court for wrongly attributing a campaign jibe on PM Narendra Modi to its judges. In an affidavit to the court, Mr Gandhi said he had “unintentionally and inadvertently” used the court’s name to show that Mr Modi was corrupt. The comment in question was made on 10 April when Mr Gandhi said that the top court’s decision to re-examine an earlier verdict clearing the government of corruption charges in the Rafale jets deal proved that the “chowkidar” or watchman - a term Mr Modi has adopted this campaign - was indeed a “thief.”

Mr Gandhi’s apology comes in the middle of an intense electoral battle between Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Mr Gandhi’s Congress.

The court then gave Gandhi time until May 10 to issue a formal apology

His comment saw the BJP almost immediately file a case in the top court, which saw him being ordered to explain his statement and also issue an apology. He replied to the notice, saying he “regretted” attributing his statement to the court. But the BJP’s lawyer told the court on 30 April that Mr Gandhi’s reply “fell short” of an apology. The court then gave Mr Gandhi time until 10 May to issue a formal apology. The Congress party said that Mr Gandhi had apologised to the court and not to Mr Modi.

Mr Gandhi has often alleged that corruption happened in the jet deal and Mr Modi favoured some businessmen. Tens of thousands of people showed up for the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) rally in Azamgarh, a constituency in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

“There is constant cheering and clapping as supporters flash victory signs,” says our correspondent Geeta Pandey, who is at the rally. The opposition alliance, which has seen two of the state’s most powerful regional parties set aside their political feuding and band together against Mr Modi, is confident that they will emerge victorious, she adds.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has refused to back down from a statement where he attacked former PM Rajiv Gandhi, saying that when he died, he was the “number one corrupt” man in the country. “Your father [Rajiv Gandhi] may have been declared Mr. Clean by his courtiers. But he died as “Bhrashtachari No.1,” Mr Modi said at a rally in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Rajiv Gandhi, the father of current Congress party president Rahul Gandhi, was assassinated by a suicide bomber in 1991 during a campaign rally.

Mr Modi’s comments were roundly criticised by not only the Congress party but also leaders belonging to other opposition parties. However in an interview, Mr Modi defended his comment, saying he was stating a “fact”.

The Indian prime minister’s broadside on Rajiv Gandhi has taken many by surprise. It has elicited condemnation not just from the Congress party, but other regional opposition leaders, political commentators and even former political opponents of Rajiv Gandhi.

Writing an opinion for the Indian Express newspaper, Rajmohan Gandhi, who fought an election against Rajiv Gandhi in 1989, said “If there were some in India in 1991 who thought of Rajiv as India’s most corrupt person, I did not meet them. No MP, whether in government or opposition, seemed to think of Rajiv as personally corrupt. All were shaken by the brutal assassination of a fine human being and grieved over it.”

More than 200 professors from India’s elite Delhi University have signed a letter condemning Mr Modi’s remarks.

Some analysts have said that the prime minister’s comments were a sign of “desperation” and showed that he “knew” his party was not going to perform as well as expected in the ongoing election. Others say that he is merely ensuring that he polarises the electorate against a resurgent Congress to ensure that his victory is not a marginal one.

Whatever the reason, Mr Modi has dug his heels in. He has not only refused to back down but he has also “challenged” the Congress party to make the final two phases of the poll about Rajiv Gandhi and his corruption. The battle is over. Your Karma awaits you. Projecting your inner beliefs about yourself onto my father won’t protect you.

His sister Priyanka has been more combative though. In a tweet in Hindi she said, “The prime minister who seeks votes in the name of martyrs has insulted the martyrdom of a good and righteous man in a flurry of uncontrolled slurs. The people of Amethi will give him a reply, for whom Rajiv Gandhi gave his life. Mr Modi - the country never forgives those who cheat.”