Modi’s party on Sunday suffered a resounding election defeat in a key state, West Bengal, failing to dislodge its firebrand chief minister, Mamata Banerjee. It retained power in northeastern Assam state but lost in two southern states.
While the four states were already stiff election challenges for Modi’s party apart from the pandemic, analysts said the results weaken Modi’s position as surging infections cripple the already-fragile health system.
Meanwhile, the world’s biggest cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League, said Monday’s match between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders would be rescheduled after two players tested positive for the coronavirus. The two players have self-isolated, and medical personnel were tracing their contacts.
Despite rising cases, the league has held matches every evening behind closed doors since it kicked off in April.
India has confirmed 19.9 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, behind only the U.S., which has counted more than 32.4 million. More than 218,000 people in India have died, according to the health ministry. Both figures are thought to be vast undercounts.
India opened its vaccination campaign to people ages 18-44 on Saturday, a mammoth task undermined by limited supplies. India is the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, but even the ongoing effort to inoculate people above 45 is stuttering. Since January, 10% of Indians have received one dose but only about 1.5% have received both required doses.