Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), suffered an electoral setback Sunday in West Bengal, a key state of 90 million people, in hotly contested regional elections marked by acts of violence.
The results showed his opponent, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC), was on his way to a third term.
Thousands of TMC supporters have taken to the streets, despite the ban on celebrations due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic.
“This victory saved humanity, the Indian people. It is India’s victory,” said Ms. Banerjee, a fierce critic of Modi, in a speech on Sunday.
India called to the polls over the past month 175 million people in five regional elections, in West Bengal (east), Assam (northeast), Tamil Nadu (southeast), Kerala (south-west) and the territory of Pondicherry (south-east).
In West Bengal, Narendra Modi and his close collaborator Amit Shah actively campaigned to try to seize power from Mamata Banerjee, who has ruled the state since 2011, by organizing dozens of rallies sometimes bringing together hundreds of thousands of people.
Campaign party rallies have been partially blamed for the explosion in cases of coronavirus contamination in India.
In Assam, however, the BJP retained power.
In the territory of Pondicherry, the BJP, which tries to increase its presence in the south of the country, was to come to power through an alliance.
In Tamil Nadu, MK Stalin brought back to power his party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), by defeating an existing coalition of which the BJP was the national ally.
In Kerala, where the BJP has so far played only a minor role, a left-wing alliance has retained power thanks to a comfortable victory over a congressional-led coalition.