Home Topics Business Two Indian states vote for Modi in the test

Two Indian states vote for Modi in the test

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© Reuters. A face-shielded armed police officer stands guard while women wait in line to cast their votes at a polling station in the first phase of West Bengal state elections in Purulia

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By Subrata Nagchoudhury and Zarir Hussain

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) – Voters in Assam and West Bengal in India cast their votes on Saturday in elections that show how support for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is holding up after a year of coronavirus pandemic and months of protests against his farm reforms .

Modi and Interior Minister Amit Shah fought vigorously for their Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal and encouraged the Trinamool Congress Party (TMC), whose branding leader Mamata Banerjee has been Prime Minister since 2011.

India’s fourth largest state, with 90 million inhabitants, was a bastion of communism for decades and saw a turnout of almost 80% in the first election phase on Saturday.

Campaign politicians often showed little consideration for social distancing, but as voters patiently queued at polling stations, security guards and poll workers distributed masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves.

Modi was re-elected for a second five-year term in 2019, and his BJP is pushing to expand its influence beyond the 12 of 28 states it rules alone and a few others where it is part of a government alliance – not least because this would help him control the upper house of the Bundestag.

It never took power in West Bengal, and doing well in the state would send an impressive national signal.

“This election in Bengal is important because the BJP has emerged as a prime candidate for the first time,” said Amal Mukhopadhyay, former professor of political science at Kolkata Presidency College.

In neighboring Assam, where an alliance led by the BJP is seeking a second term, turnout was over 76% after a day when voters queued for the 7 a.m. elections

The vote in West Bengal will take place in eight phases and will end on April 29th. The votes will be counted on May 2nd.

Assam’s third and final phase of the vote will take place on April 6th.

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