Bihar election: Modi declares victory in India’s first coronavirus vote

India’s election commission results show Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and his coalition partners have returned to power after a tight race to control the legislature in Bihar, the country’s third-largest state by population by more than 100 million. Persons.

“Democracy reigned again in Bihar with the blessing of the people,” Modi wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, local time, as the results of the legislative elections in Bihar approached. “I assure every citizen of Bihar that we will continue to work for equal development for every region and for every person.”

The BJP and its three coalition partners won 122 of 243 seats, Which is just enough to ensure that the coalition wins a narrow race that includes three rounds of voting starting in October. The progressive Rashtriya Janata Dal won 75 seats – one more than the BJP, but it is not enough to secure victory even with its coalition partners.

Opinion polls indicated earlier that the BJP may head towards defeat in Bihar, which has been severely affected by measures to control the outbreak of the Corona virus in India, which is the worst in the world, along with the United States, in terms of the number of virus cases.

Bihar is one of the poorest states of India, and many residents travel outside the state for work. When Moody imposed a Nationwide insurance In March with only four hours notice, a lot Migrant workers From Bihar left without work. According to Indian government data, More than 10 million migrant workers They returned to their home states – including more than 1.5 million to Bihar.
The unemployment rate in Bihar rose from 15.4% in March to 46.6% in April, although it has declined in recent months as the coronavirus restrictions eased. In October, the unemployment rate in Bihar stood at 9.8%, it said Official statistics.
Behar reported More than 220,000 cases Including 1,156 deaths – still a relatively small fraction of India’s 8.5 million cases and 127,000 deaths.

Although the number of new coronavirus cases has decreased daily in India since September when authorities repeatedly reported more than 90,000 cases per day, cases are starting to rise again in the country’s capital, New Delhi. Earlier this week, Delhi reported the largest one-day increase in Covid-19 cases, bringing its total to more than 450,000.

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What does voting mean

Despite the Bihar elections being held in light of the emerging coronavirus crisis in the country, Jill Verners, a professor of political science at Ashoka University in North Haryana state, India, said it was not clear how much the role the Corona virus played in how people voted.

He said Bihar had already suffered from high unemployment rates before Covid-19, but the closures and dealings with migrant workers had only made matters worse. Anger and discontent over how the migrant crisis is being handled is likely to cost the BJP some votes. The BJP won 36.8% of the vote in the last elections in 2015, but this election only won 29.2%.

“It seems clear that Covid has exacerbated every preexisting problem … but not to the point where the government would fall.”

“The prevailing belief among Modi voters is that he means goodwill, he cannot make a mistake, and that he is the only alternative that exists, and this outweighs a closer look at the consequences of the government’s actions.”

Although the BJP lost its vote share in Bihar, its narrow election success heralds a change in the party’s fortune, which was affected by a number of recent defeats in other local elections despite its victory in the general election last year.

In February, Moody’s party Suffered a tragedy Local election defeat in New Delhi, as voters in the capital choose to ignore his divisive Hindu nationalist program. At the end of 2018, The BJP suffered defeats in major states of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

“Obviously, this is good news for the BJP,” Verners said of the Bihar state result.

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How did the elections take place?

As people headed to the polls, it was clear that it wasn’t just another election.

Hazmat allowance workers helped Covid patients to vote, Depending To a tweet from the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) in Bihar.
Chalk circles were drawn on the floor to encourage voters to stand in a queue six feet apart while they waited to cast their ballots. Temperature check Before they are allowed into the polling booth. Special procedures have been established for Covid-19 patients or suspected cases.

But this kind of caution is not always seen during election campaigns.

Despite rising coronavirus cases in parts of India, politicians in Bihar held rallies ahead of the state vote. Pictures on social media showed large gatherings, with a few wearing face masks or practicing social distancing.

“India has demonstrated that it has the capacity to organize secure elections in terms of polling and counting,” said Verners. “You can’t say the same about the campaign.”

CNN’s Vedika Sud also contributed reporting from New Delhi.

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