Voting for state elections has begun in the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal, which will gauge Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support after months of farmers protesting against the Coronavirus pandemic and agrarian reforms.
According to the reports, there is no threat to Narendra Modi’s re-election to power in 2019 for five years, but after the farmers’ protests around the capital New Delhi in the north of the country, the situation has been changed.
This is the first round of elections in both states, the results of which will not be known until several months later.
Despite all the fears of the coronavirus, politicians were seen ignoring social distance during the election campaign, but on Saturday, while people lined up outside polling stations in West Bengal, security personnel and election staff wore masks and gloves and sanitisers were distributed.
Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah campaigned vigorously for their Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal and tried to woo local politicians away from the Trinamool Congress party, led by Mamata Banerjee.
A retired school teacher told the international news agency that the main contenders were strong this time around and it was difficult to gauge the mood.
The BJP has governments in more than a dozen of the country’s 28 states and has formed coalitions in several other states, but it has never come to power in West Bengal for more than three decades at a time. For a long time, it was a stronghold of communists.
Analysts say that if the BJP defeats Banerjee from here, it will deal a severe blow to the wider opposition.
The country’s fourth most populous state, with 90 million people, is crucial to gaining control of the upper house of the federal parliament, which is elected from the state assemblies.
In neighbouring Assam, where the BJP-led coalition is in the fray for a second term, polling began early and women in their traditional attire lined up outside polling stations before the polls began.