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India election results: Modi’s BJP loses crucial West Bengal state election


West Bengal, which is seen as a key battleground, has never been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata (BJP) party, despite an aggressive campaign and massive rallies.

Mamata Banerjee, 66, is expected to be the leader of West Bengal for the third time after her Trinamool Congress Party (TMC) won a two-thirds majority, winning more than 200 seats in the 294-seat assembly, said officials of the electoral commission. . The final tally for some seats was still in progress.

Banerjee is now India’s only female chief minister.

Despite the defeat, the BJP made substantial gains and became the main opposition party. Its total in the state legislature rose to nearly 80 seats, from just three seats won in the last state election in 2016.

The results are seen as a test of whether the second wave of Covid-19 had an impact on support for Modi and the right-wing BJP.

Modi, his colleagues and regional politicians campaigned in five state elections, including West Bengal, despite the second wave of Covid-19 – prompting criticism that the prime minister was focusing on the elections instead to make the pandemic its top priority.

Some experts accuse the Federal Election Commission of allowing rallies and votes in which large crowds flouted rules on social distancing and wearing masks.

Banerjee, a scathing critic of Modi, has largely led a one-woman campaign to retain power by leading dozens of public rallies.

“It is an extraordinary performance from Mamata Banerjee because Modi was determined to win Bengal, but it is clear that all of his political machinery and strategy could not defeat her,” said Diptendu Bhaskar, political analyst in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.

After the latest figures were released, Modi praised Banerjee in a tweet on Sunday evening. “The Center will continue to provide all possible support to the government of West Bengal to meet the aspirations of the population and also to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic,” he wrote.

In the northeastern state of Assam, the BJP has managed to retain power. In Tamil Nadu, the victory went to DMK, the main regional opposition party.

In Kerala state, the ruling left-wing political party was on the verge of forming government while the BJP-led alliance failed to win any seats. In the Union Territory of Pondicherry, the Congress-led alliance All India NR was at the head of 14 of the 30 assembly seats.

Most votes were cast in March, but polls in some constituencies continued until April, as India began to detect thousands of new coronavirus infections every day.

Additional reporting by CNN’s Sugham Pokharel and Swati Gupta.

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