Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party lost its attempt to take the key state of West Bengal in regional elections.
The BJP heavily targeted West Bengal during the campaign, but it was comfortably held by outgoing Mamata Banerjee, a fierce critic of Modi.
The party held power in Assam but failed to make major gains elsewhere.
The vote was closely watched for signs of backlash against Mr Modi amid India’s Covid crisis.
For 10 consecutive days, daily cases have exceeded 300,000. India set a new daily death record on Sunday, with 3,689 recorded. Hospitals face a severe shortage of beds and medical oxygen, with many Indians resorting to desperate social media calls for help.
Campaign rallies and votes have been blamed for the surge in cases.
What happened in Bengal?
With almost all results counted, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress Party (TMC) has over 200 seats in the 294-seat assembly.
The results are expected to make Ms. Banerjee the leader of West Bengal for the third time. She is also India’s only female chief minister.
Celebrating the victory, she said West Bengal had “saved” India with the result. “This is the victory of the people of Bengal, the victory of democracy,” she told her supporters.
The victory was embittered by the loss of his seat in Nandigram in favor of a former assistant turned defector from the BJP. She said she would challenge the result in court, but may have to run again to remain chief minister.
West Bengal, with a population of 90 million, is of particular interest to election observers. It is one of the few states where Mr. Modi does not have a majority of parliamentary seats and has never been led by his Hindu nationalist party, the BJP.
Despite the defeat, that vote saw the BJP win nearly 80 seats to become the main opposition party in West Bengal. In the 2016 vote, the party won just three seats.
In addition to the northeastern states of West Bengal and Assam, there were votes in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the South Indian Union Territory of Pondicherry, and council elections. local in parts of Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.
In Tamil Nadu, the main regional opposition party, the DMK, has seized power. Their leader MK Stalin was named in honor of the late Soviet dictator.
A left-wing coalition retained power in Kerala, while a BJP-led alliance did not win any seats.
In addition to the coronavirus pandemic, some analysts saw the results as showing the limits of BJP’s Hindu nationalist rhetoric in states with large Muslim populations.