Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday canceled his visit to Bengal to campaign for the ongoing state elections, citing meetings to review the Covid situation in the country. Home Secretary Amit Shah also halted his campaign today, canceling two of his three meetings in Bengal to return to Delhi for a Covid meeting.
“Tomorrow I will chair high-level meetings to review the current COVID-19 situation. For this reason, I would not go to West Bengal,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted, thus ending his campaign in Bengal, who will vote in three others. rounds before the May 2 election results.
This is the first time that the Prime Minister has canceled a campaign visit to Bengal, where rallies of him, other BJP leaders and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee drew huge and frightening crowds during the time of Covid. The optics have looked particularly bad for the ruling party at a time when the Covid business has exploded. This morning, India reported a world record of 3.14 lakh cases in one day and more than 2,000 deaths.
PM Modi was scheduled to speak tomorrow at four electoral meetings in Bengal.
On Saturday, the Prime Minister appeared to congratulate the large crowd at a rally in Bengal on a day when India reported 2.34 lakh cases of Covid in one day.
Even today, top BJP leaders have held public meetings and roadshows in Bengal. The same was true of Mamata Banerjee, who cut the length of her speeches but has not stopped campaigning as she fights for a third consecutive term against a strong challenge from the BJP.
Criticized for maintaining its outsized rallies despite raging infections, the BJP said it would limit the number to 500 and that the Prime Minister’s meetings for Saturday were pummeled with its campaign on Friday.
PM Modi held a series of meetings this week as the surge in Covid cases in the country threatens to overwhelm healthcare facilities in several states. He met with public health officials, vaccine manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies. Today he chaired a meeting on the snowballing oxygen crisis that saw states bickering with states and states arguing with the Center over supplies.