Indian PM Draws Backlash for Holding ‘Superspreader’ Election Meetings Amid Record COVID Surge

The second COVID wave in the country has been particularly devastating, with the nation recording more than 100,000 infections on a daily basis in recent weeks. Amid the record surge in infections, PM Narendra Modi’s election meetings have been described as “superspreader” events by opposition parties, contributing to the worsening situation.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been facing massive backlash in the country for holding election meetings in the poll-bound state of West Bengal, as the South Asian nation witnessed yet another record surge in COVID infections on Saturday.

India, which this month overtook Brazil as the second-worst hit country during the COVID pandemic, reported a record of 234,000 new COVID infections on Saturday, the most in a single day since the first case was reported on 30 January 2020. Over 1,300 new deaths were recorded on the same day, taking the overall death toll to over 175,000.

Prime Minister Modi’s boast that he had never seen so many people at an election meeting, while addressing a rally in Asansol, hasn’t gone down well with many people, as they held the PM responsible for contributing to the rise in cases by refusing to suspend the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) campaign despite appeals by opposition parties.

Besides Prime Minister Modi addressing two election meetings in the state on Saturday, federal Home Minister Amit Shah, another star campaigner for the BJP, addressed other election rallies and held a roadshow at three different places in the eastern state.

For its part, the BJP has said that all the COVID-related safety protocols, including social distancing norms, were being adhered to during the group’s election meetings.

​Tempers in India refused to calm down even after the PM held a meeting with senior officials to review the deteriorating healthcare situation in the country.

​Meanwhile, Uddhav Thackeray, opposition leader and chief of the Indian state of Maharashtra, the worst-hit in the country during the COVID pandemic, claimed on Saturday that a staffer in Prime Minister Modi’s office told him that the Indian leader was busy with electioneering in West Bengal, as the state chief called the PM to discuss the ongoing shortage of oxygen and remdesivir, a life-saving drug being used to treat COVID patients.

Uddhav’s allegation against Prime Minister Modi prompted a quick reaction from federal Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, who assured the state that all assistance in its ongoing battle against the pandemic is being rendered. The BJP has also rebuffed the allegations.

India’s federal opposition Congress Party also upped the ante against Prime Minister Modi, as it accused the BJP-led government of “gross mismanagement” of the current COVID situation in the nation.

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