Indian premier’s party loses crucial state elections

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NEW DELHI

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has suffered a defeat in the state election of West Bengal amid an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases.

The election commission data showed Monday the All India Trinamool Congress party led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee winning 213 seats of 294-seat state legislative assembly, while Modi’s party won 77 seats.

Counting began in West Bengal, three other states, and one union territory on Sunday.

The election in West Bengal was the most high profile contest as the state has never been ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party. Modi along with his party leaders aggressively campaigned, holding massive rallies.

Banerjee, the only woman chief minister in the country, said people of West Bengal have “saved the country.” She is set to become the chief minister for the third time.

The results also showed the Modi’s party losing in the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, while it retained power in the eastern state of Assam and union territory of Puducherry, where the party is in an alliance.

Holding elections amid the pandemic wave has already generated controversy. Record number of infections and deaths has led to a near-collapse of the health system leading to an acute shortage of beds, medical oxygen, and treatment drugs.

India recorded nearly 369,000 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 19.9 million. With 3,417 new related deaths, the total virus-linked deaths stand at 218,959.

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