kalcuta, India, 02 May 2021 (AlJazeera)
The incumbent chief minister’s party in India’s West Bengal state has defeated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party in state elections held as the coronavirus pandemic surged to crisis levels.
Modi has been criticised for focusing on the elections instead of making the pandemic his top priority.
Mamata Banerjee, 66, is set to be the chief minister of West Bengal for the third time after her Trinamool Congress party (TMC) won a two-thirds majority, taking more than 200 seats in the 294-seat state assembly, election commission officials said. Final counting for some seats was still under way.
Banerjee is currently India’s only female chief minister. In a victory speech on Sunday, Banerjee said West Bengal’s “immediate challenge is to combat COVID-19 and we are confident that we will win”. “This victory has saved the humanity, the people of India. It’s the victory of India,” Banerjee, a fierce critic of Modi, added.
Despite the defeat, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made substantial gains in West Bengal, making it the main opposition party as its tally in the state legislature went to nearly 80 seats from just three seats won in 2016.
In Assam state, the BJP managed to retain political power. In Tamil Nadu, the DMK – the main regional opposition party – secured victory. In Kerala state, the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) was set to form the government, while the BJP led-alliance won no seats. In the union territory of Puducherry, the All India NR Congress-led alliance was leading in 14 of the 30 assembly seats.
Modi, his colleagues and regional politicians campaigned aggressively in five state elections despite the pandemic.
On Sunday, India recorded its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic yet with 3,689 deaths in the last 24 hours. The number of cases surged to 19.5 million on Sunday with 392,488 new infections, government data showed. India became the first country to cross 400,000 daily cases on Saturday.
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