Friday, November 27, 2020

Millions queue to vote as India state election gets under way

The election comes as India, the world's second most-infected nation, has recorded almost eight million virus cases.

Other News

Court throws out Umno man’s bid to strike out suit by Teresa Kok

A three-member Court of Appeal panel dismissed Jamal Yunos' appeal and ordered him to pay Teresa Kok RM7,000 in costs.

Selangor offers RM20,000 reward for info on environmental crimes

Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari says this is to get the public involved in combating environmental crime in the state.

Germany’s Covid-19 infections pass 1 million

The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care nationwide has soared from just over 360 in early October to more than 3,500 last week.

Anwar dipanggil sebagai saksi kes saman bekas pegawai penyelidik dipukul setiausaha politiknya

Perbicaraan dijadualkan berlangsung di Mahkamah Sesyen Shah Alam pada Mac tahun depan.

PRK Parlimen Gerik, DUN Bugaya serentak 16 Jan 2021

Kdua-dua kerusi Parlimen Gerik dan DUN Bugaya kosong selepas penyandangnya meninggal dunia bulan ini.

Millions of Indians turned out to cast ballots in a state election Wednesday in the world’s biggest vote since the coronavirus emerged, with booths packed out and many ignoring government advice on wearing masks and social distancing.

Some 70 million people are eligible to vote in Bihar, an impoverished eastern state governed by an alliance that includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has promised a free vaccine for every person in the state if it wins.

The election comes as India, the world’s second most-infected nation, has recorded almost eight million virus cases.

“I am a little afraid because corona(virus) is not a small disease,” said Nidhi Kumari, a 21-year-old student queueing up to vote in the outskirts of the state capital Patna.

“But there are precautions at polling booths. They are giving sanitisers and gloves.”

Voting in Bihar has been split across three days – Wednesday, Nov 3 and Nov 7 – to reduce crowding at booths.

Coronavirus patients will be allowed to cast a ballot under the supervision of the health authorities.

Long queues, few masks

Modi – who held several rallies across the state in the run-up to the polls – appealed to voters Wednesday “to take all Covid precautions while participating in this festival of democracy”.

But at a booth visited by AFP, there were long queues of voters lined up heel-to-toe, and few masks in sight.

Authorities have struggled to enforce social distancing and mask-wearing during rallies across the state that have attracted tens of thousands of people.

The poll is the first in India since Modi imposed a strict lockdown in late March that led to millions of poor migrant workers, many from Bihar, losing their jobs with some having to walk for days or weeks back home.

The state, one of India’s poorest, has been ruled by an alliance of Modi’s Hindu-nationalist BJP and the regional Janta Dal United (JDU) party for over a decade.

But opinion polls indicate disquiet with the incumbent regime, particularly Chief Minister Nitish Kumar from JDU, who has been in power for most of the past 15 years, over perceptions he has not done enough to lift the state out of poverty.

Kumar’s unpopularity has been further exacerbated by the lockdown, with hundreds of thousands of workers who fled cities like Mumbai or Delhi because of the virus still unable to find jobs in Bihar.

Unemployment and the cost of living have been major election issues, with the national government also striving to keep the prices of onions – a key ingredient in Indian cuisine – in check amid a shortage after heavy rains damaged crops.

The main opposition regional Rashtriya Janata Dal party, which remains tainted by past corruption allegations and is in an alliance with the national Congress party, has meanwhile promised to support unemployed youth and create thousands of new state government jobs.

Bihar’s ruling alliance has banked heavily on Modi, who remains popular in the state. He has promised to expedite development projects if the alliance is returned to power.

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news and analyses.

Related Articles

India prepares for ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ Nivar

State governments have cancelled flights and trains in expectation of widespread flooding and catastrophic winds.

India’s Covid-19 cases pass 9 million as Delhi struggles

India has now registered more than 132,000 deaths, according to the latest official figures, which are widely seen as understating the true scale of the pandemic.

Mexico becomes fourth country to pass 100,000 virus deaths

Mexico's death toll is 100,104, behind only the US, Brazil and India.

Muhyiddin jauh tinggalkan Dr Mahathir, Anwar dalam satu kaji selidik terbaru

Perdana menteri memperoleh sokongan lebih besar daripada orang bukan Melayu walaupun sokongan mereka terhadap kerajaan rendah.

Muhyiddin gesa Asean, India berganding bahu ke arah pemulihan pasca-pendemik

Malaysia bersama semua anggota Asean sedia bekerjasama dengan India dalam pembangunan dan penghasilan vaksin Covid-19.