Which caste dominates in Kerala

Mood test for modes

73.3 million eligible voters in West Bengal, 62.8 million in Tamil Nadu, 27.4 million in Kerala and 23.2 million in Assam: These are by far the largest elections in pandemic times that begin on Saturday in India. And as is usual in the land of superlatives, the polls take place in three to eight phases, depending on the region. There are particularly many in West Bengal, where the last group of constituencies will vote on April 29th. The votes will then be counted everywhere on May 2nd.

More than ever, a large number of security guards and election workers are on duty. It is not only about the orderly process and the prevention of violence, but also about compliance with infection protection. India is just behind Brazil and the leading USA in third place on the global corona list. There will soon be a total of 12 million infected people, and recently over 40,000 new cases were added each day.

A lively voter turnout can nevertheless be assumed. It's about a lot: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has now been in office for almost seven years, and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) want to show that they have the country firmly in political hands even in times of pandemic. In addition to the national level, the Hindu nationalists had clearly dominated most regions recently. A challenge for them: the states in which the elections are now taking place have so far been part of the strongholds of the (multi-layered) opposition forces.

It could be particularly exciting in West Bengal. The Left Front set the tone there for over 30 years, but has long since lost its popularity. Now the state is the bastion of the bourgeois regional party Trinamool Congress (TMC). Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been temporarily in a wheelchair since being assaulted during the election campaign, is one of the harshest critics of the Hindu nationalists across India. The decision in the populous state is a three-way battle. The Hindu nationalists, the TMC and the alliance of the Left Front and the traditional Congress Party want to become the strongest force. The Left Front, led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), to which the smaller Communist sister CPI, the Revolutionary Socialist Party and the Forward Bloc belong, is still strong, at least subregionally, although not as pronounced as it used to be .

To do this, the left has to defend its last real bastion, Kerala - there it and the Congress Party have been taking turns in government with their respective local partners for decades. The state of Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, has always been dominated by two strong regional parties.

The electoral areas are also special in terms of the population mix: nowhere else is the proportion of the Muslim minority greater than in Assam, Kerala and West Bengal; in Kerala there are 26.7 percent Muslims and 16.6 percent Christians. In West Bengal, Dalits, at the lowest level in the caste system, make up almost a third of the electorate.

West Bengal's Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar expressed concern about possible violent excesses in the heated atmosphere. In addition to extensive social programs, which were announced by some parties in the penultimate minute, considerable sums of money also play a role, as always. The electoral commission in the four states has confiscated an impressive 3.33 billion rupees (38.6 million euros), which, in addition to material assets, were supposed to be used to buy votes. And there are 57 millionaires among the 132 MPs in Kerala alone.

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