Prime Minister Narendra Modi canceled his visit to Bengal tomorrow to campaign for the ongoing state elections, citing meetings to review the Covid situation in the country.
“Tomorrow I will chair high-level meetings to review the current COVID-19 situation. For this reason, I will not be going to West Bengal,” PM Modi tweeted today.
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 looked particularly bad for the ruling party.
PM Modi was due to address four election meetings in the state.
Prime Minister Modi appeared to congratulate the large crowd at a rally in Bengal on Saturday on a day when India reported 2.34 lakh cases of Covid in one day. “I came here twice during the Lok Sabha elections. The last time I came to seek votes for Babulji (Union Minister Babul Supriyo). The first time I came for myself. But the crowd was only a quarter of that size … “he mentioned.
“… but today in all directions I see huge crowds of people … I witnessed such a gathering for the first time … Today you showed your power “, added Prime Minister Modi.
Even today, top BJP leaders, including Home Secretary Amit Shah, 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 gatherings despite raging infections, the BJP said it would limit the number of people to 500.
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.