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NEW DELHI (AP) – Preliminary voting trends released by India’s electoral body on Sunday indicate that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party has failed to make progress in four recent state elections, a sign that its political strength may wane as the country struggles to contain an unprecedented situation. increase in coronavirus cases.

Health experts say the massive election rallies and marches staged during voters’ votes in March and April are partly to blame for the subsequent rise in COVID-19 infections. Public anger for allowing the elections to continue despite the risk has been directed against both Modi’s ruling party, Bharatiya Janata, and the Independent Election Commission. The committee will publish the final results of the vote later Sunday.

Even before the current outbreak of the virus, Modi’s party faced serious challenges in making its way into these local elections. Following the disappointing results, Modi is weakened but faces no threat of remaining prime minister until the end of his term in 2024.

The Election Commission voting trend forecast on Sunday showed the BJP lagging behind in the state of West Bengal behind a powerful regional party, apparently unable to oust Chief State Minister Mamata Banerjee after a relentless campaign.

Modi’s party appears poised to retain power in the northeastern state of Assam for a second term, but has failed to pick up significant gains there or make inroads in two southern states. Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

“The BJP started to run out of steam as the pandemic spread,” said political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay.

“The verdict in the state of West Bengal will definitely weaken Modi’s position,” he said, but added that further study of the results was needed in order to say how bad it was. a referendum on the BJP’s handling of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The Tamil Nadu State High Court last week blamed the Election Commission for allowing crowded campaigns amid a global pandemic. India’s daily new cases of the virus started to surpass 100,000 at the end of March and surpass 300,000 new cases a day on April 21, collapsing India’s tattered healthcare system.

“Your institution is particularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19. Your officers should probably be convicted of murder, ”the court said.

Across the country, death is so pervasive that cemeteries are running out of space in many cities, and glowing funeral pyres blaze all night long. With the government unable to maintain a steady supply of oxygen to overwhelmed hospitals, desperate parents advocate for oxygen outside or cry on the streets for loved ones who have died while waiting for treatment.

India saw a slight drop in new infections on Sunday with 392,488, down from 401,993 in the past 24 hours. It also reported 3,689 more deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 215,542. Experts believe both figures are underestimated.

Modi’s party has flocked to Hindu-dominated areas of central and northern India since it was elected in 2014. The recent local elections were seen as crucial for the party to gain a foothold in three important states. a large Muslim minority. Hindu nationalist BJP has been accused for years of fueling religious polarization and discriminating against minorities.

The Prime Minister also wants to project the BJP as a national party, replacing a dynastic congressional party that ruled India for more than six decades after gaining independence from British rule in 1947.

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