Why are there no elections in Kerala

India: Regional election defeat for Modi amid rising corona numbers

In the regional elections in four Indian states and one Union territory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's conservative ruling BJP party apparently did not make any gains. In West Bengal, where almost all votes have already been counted, the BJP is well behind the regional party All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) headed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The TMC therefore has more than 200, the BJP only around 80 of the 292 parliamentary seats.

Elections were also held in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. The BJP was only able to hold onto power in Assam, but there too - as in the other states - it made no gains.

Modi was particularly involved in the election campaign in West Bengal, which lies on the border with Bangladesh and has a strong Muslim minority. The BJP promised to expel hundreds of thousands of Muslims who fled Bangladesh to India decades ago.

Again more than 300,000 new infections

The election campaign took place in the midst of the corona pandemic, in part with huge election rallies. Many experts see this as the cause of the dramatic increase in the number of infections, but also refer to variant B.1.617, which was first detected in India.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health reported 368,147 new infections and thus more than 300,000 new cases within 24 hours for the twelfth day in a row. On Saturday, with more than 400,000 new infections, a global high was registered again. The number of deaths increased in the country with 1.35 billion inhabitants by 3,417 to 218,959. However, experts fear a high number of unreported cases in both infections and deaths.

Many hospitals are overcrowded, there is a lack of medical oxygen to treat Covid-19 patients and vaccine. International aid, in which Austria also participates, has started. At least eleven states and territories have imposed new restrictions. Modi shies away from a nationwide lockdown for fear of the economic consequences.

Negative PCR test required

Austria recently tightened the entry rules for India. Flights from India have not been allowed to land since Thursday, entry is only allowed for people residing in Austria. Since Monday, a negative PCR test must be presented upon entry or carried out within 24 hours of entry. A free test from the ten-day quarantine is also only possible with a PCR test on the fifth day at the earliest. These rules also apply to the other two virus mutation areas, South Africa and Brazil.

Australia imposed far stricter rules for those coming from India who were criticized as racist. According to a new regulation, every person arriving in Australia from India faces a fine of the equivalent of 42,000 euros and up to five years in prison since Monday. So far, there have been no comparable measures for returnees from other virus mutation areas.

Australia's Human Rights Commission, which has the legal mandate to monitor compliance with fundamental rights, expressed "serious concerns": the government must prove "that the measures are not discriminatory". Elaine Pearson, Australia chief of the human rights organization Human Rights Watch, described the measure as a "hideous reaction". Australians have a right to return to their own country, Pearson wrote in a statement. The government should allow those affected to be safely quarantined instead of focusing on "excessive penalties". (maa, Reuters, May 3, 2021)