Prime Minister Narendra Modi today cancelled his visit to Bengal on Friday to campaign for the ongoing state election citing meetings to review the Covid situation in the country. Home Minister Amit Shah also cut short his campaign today, cancelling two of his three Bengal meetings to return to Delhi for a Covid meeting.
“Tomorrow, will be chairing high-level meetings to review the prevailing COVID-19 situation. Due to that, I would not be going to West Bengal,” PM Modi tweeted, effectively ending his campaign in Bengal, which will vote in three more rounds before the election results on May 2.
This is the first time the Prime Minister has cancelled a campaign visit to Bengal, where rallies by him, other BJP leaders and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have been drawing huge, frightening crowds in the time of Covid. The optics have looked particularly bad for the ruling party at a time Covid cases have been rocketing. This morning, India reported a global high of 3.14 lakh cases in a day and over 2,000 deaths.
PM Modi was scheduled to address four election meetings in Bengal tomorrow.
On Saturday, the Prime Minister seemed to praise the large crowd at a rally in Bengal on a day India reported 2.34 lakh Covid cases in a day.
Even today, top BJP leaders held public meetings and roadshows in Bengal. So did Mamata Banerjee, who has reduced the duration of her speeches but has not stopped campaigning as she fights for a third straight term against a strong challenge from the BJP.
Criticised for keeping up its outsized rallies despite the raging infections, the BJP said it would limit the number of people to 500 and the PM’s meetings for Saturday were clubbed with his Friday campaign.
PM Modi has held a series of meetings this week as spiraling Covid cases in the country threaten to overwhelm health care facilities in several states. He has met with state health officials, vaccine manufacturers and pharma companies. Today, he chaired a meeting on the snowballing oxygen crisis that has seen states bickering with states and states sparring with the Centre over supplies.