Indian Prime Minister Modi’s political party holds rallies despite COVID-19 crisis
Members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are holding political rallies to drum up support ahead of municipal elections despite a devastating second wave of coronavirus gripping the country.
Campaigning is underway in parts of southern Telangana state for municipal elections. Images tweeted by the BJP Telangana official account on Monday show crowds of people gathered at rallies in Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation, with many of them not wearing masks or adhering to social distancing guidelines.
India reported 352,991 new coronavirus cases — breaking yet another record for the highest single-day figure globally. Cases dipped slightly Tuesday, with 323,144 new patients reported.
The party’s Twitter account later took down some of the tweets and photos showing wider shots of large crowds gathered in the streets for the rallies.
Modi and the BJP have come under fire for holding several rallies in eastern West Bengal state with thousands in attendance between March and April ahead of state polls.
Experts fear the Covid-19 pandemic in India is spiraling out of control thanks to a “perfect storm” of poor vaccine coverage, mass gatherings and the prevalence of more contagious variants of the virus. India has had a total of 17,636,307 Covid-19 cases and 197,894 deaths, according to a CNN tally
On April 22, the Election Commission of India tightened restrictions for the remaining phases of the West Bengal state assembly elections, banning road shows and vehicle rallies as well as large public meetings with more than 500 people after finding political parties and candidates were flouting public health guidelines.
Municipal elections come under state authorities, however, and the Telangana State Election Commission has advised that parties and candidates adhere to state guidelines pertaining to Covid-19. Telangana has not enacted strict anti-epidemic measures, only a curfew at night.
Telangana reported 10,122 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 411,905, according to state health department figures.