India’s State Elections Continue Amid Second COVID Wave

India imposes night curfews to curb the new COVID high . . . 

India’s second wave of COVID-19 saw a spike earlier this week, with more than 100,000 new cases in a single day, breaking the previous daily record set in September 2020. With the highest proportion of cases in the country, the state of Maharashtra announced tighter restrictions on Monday, including nightly curfews. The cities of New Delhi, Lucknow, Kanpur, and Varanasi have imposed similar restrictions and curfews. India has recorded more than 12.5 million infections and more than 165,000 deaths, while only 5.71 per cent of the population has received at least one dose of COVID vaccine.

Can the BJP gain traction in Tamil Nadu?

The states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and the union territory of Puducherry, wrapped up their State Assembly elections on April 6. In 2019, the leading party of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led national coalition. With AIADMK, Modi’s party hopes to make in-roads in the state and secure a stronger position in India’s south, a historically difficult region for the national party. Meanwhile, the opposition party in Tamil Nadu, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), is led by M.K. Stalin, a popular face in state politics. The 2021 elections will test Stalin’s merit as a leader and challenger. Soon after the polls closed, the Tamil Nadu government announced new restrictions to curb the spike in COVID-19 cases.

Will the Left front alliance continue its lead in Kerala?

Despite the high COVID-19 cases, both Tamil Nadu and Kerala saw more than a 71 per cent voter turnout. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M))-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has made impressive achievements with its governance in Kerala, one of the few states where the CPI(M) still has any presence. However, the 2018 Sabarimala temple issue, in which the LDF permitted women of menstrual age to visit the temple, caused a huge uproar and continues to impact its popularity among the electorate. LDF’s main opposition comes from the Indian National Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). However, Modi’s BJP has been building a steady support base in the state, which could prove damaging to the LDF’s chances. With elections also concluded in the state of Assam, all eyes are now on West Bengal, where elections will end on April 29.