In India, voters called to brave the heatwave

The second stage of India's general elections began on Friday April 26 with millions of voters expected at polling stations in parts of the country where there is scorching heat

In India, voters called to brave the heatwave

The second stage of India's general elections began on Friday April 26 with millions of voters expected at polling stations in parts of the country where there is scorching heat.

Turnout in the first stage of voting last week fell by almost four points, to 66%, compared to the 2019 election, with the Indian press blaming the decline on higher-than-average temperatures. And this second electoral round, which has seven to facilitate the logistics of the election of the most populous country in the world, is taking place in regions which this week suffered temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.

According to the Indian Meteorological Services, intense heat waves are expected throughout the weekend in several states including the eastern state of Bihar, where five districts will vote on Friday. Temperatures more than 5.1 degrees Celsius above the seasonal average were recorded there this week. The state of Karnataka (south) and parts of Uttar Pradesh (north), India's most populous state and heart of the Hindu faith, are also expected to vote in the heatwave.

Earlier this week, India's Election Commission said it had formed a task force to examine the impact of heatwaves and humidity ahead of each stage of voting. According to The Hindu daily, this decision could have been taken because “the heat wave conditions could have led to a drop in voter turnout”.

In a statement released Monday, the commission said it had "no major concerns" about the consequences of high temperatures on Friday's vote, while ensuring it was closely monitoring weather reports before claiming to ensure "comfort and well-being." -be voters and election staff”.

Unease of the Minister of Roads

In the state of Maharashtra, the heat disrupted Roads Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday, who collapsed while calling for votes for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at a rally electoral. Mr Gadkari collapsed unconscious, video footage showed, and later blamed the incident “on the heat”.

Shortly before polling stations reopened, Narendra Modi urged voters to participate in “record numbers”. Faced with weak opposition, the Hindu nationalist prime minister is almost assured of winning these elections extended over six weeks. “High voter turnout strengthens our democracy,” he wrote on social network X. “Your vote is your voice! »

The constituency of India's main opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi of the Congress party, votes on Friday. The 53-year-old is fighting to keep his seat in the southern state of Kerala, a stronghold of the BJP’s opponents. “It is the duty of every citizen to become a soldier of the Constitution, to leave home today and vote to protect democracy,” he wrote on the X network.

In total, 968 million Indians are expected to elect the 543 members of the lower house, more than the total population of the United States, the European Union and Russia combined. Ballots across the country will be counted on June 4. Results are usually announced the same day.