India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi got a resounding defeat in a key state election on Sunday as the country tries to contain an unusual increase in coronavirus cases.
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was also unable to remove West Bengal state’s firebrand chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, that too after a hard-fought campaign.
On Sunday night, Modi used Twitter to praise rival Banerjee’s win. “The market will continue to reach all potential support to the West Bengal Government to fulfil people’s goals and also to get over the COVID-19 pandemic,” he wrote.
His party badly failed to win in two southern states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. But the BJP achieved the next term in the northeastern state of Assam, and an alliance with local parties led it to victory in the union territory of Puducherry.
Even before the current virus surge, Modi’s party had to face stiff challenges in these local legislative elections. Following the unexpected results, Modi stands lost but faces no threats to staying on as prime representative until his term ends in 2024.
According to the Election Commission, in West Bengal, Banerjee’s All India Trinamool Congress won 213 seats out of 292, while the BJP secured just 77. Two went to other parties.
Rallies fueled virus surge
Supporters of the All India Trinamool Congress party — many without masks as well as ignoring human distancing guidelines — held victory celebrations and set off fireworks in West Bengal after initial issues were released.
Health officials say the large electoral rallies and parades held as voters cast their ballots in March and April are also the parties to blame for the subsequent spike in COVID-19 conditions. Public anger for supporting the options to go forward, notwithstanding the risk, has been directed at both Modi’s government and the Election Commission.