(BBC) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party has failed to win a key state in elections held amid record Covid-19 deaths and cases.
The BJP targeted West Bengal heavily during campaigning but the state was comfortably held by the incumbent, Mamata Banerjee, a fierce Modi critic.
Her win came as a surprise to political observers, who noted how much time and money the BJP invested in the state.
Mr Modi was even accused of focusing on polls rather than the pandemic.
Despite the defeat, the BJP won nearly 80 seats to become the main opposition party. In the 2016 vote, Narendra Modi’s party won just three seats there.
Elections also went ahead in Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala states as well as the territory of Pondicherry (Puducherry).
The BJP held power in the north-eastern state of Assam but failed to make major gains elsewhere.
For 10 straight days, daily cases in India have topped 300,000. It recorded more than 360,000 new cases and 3,417 deaths on Monday. On Sunday, the country set a new record for daily deaths, with 3,689 recorded. Hospitals are facing dire shortages of beds and medical oxygen, with many Indians resorting to desperate pleas on social media to secure help.
Campaign rallies and voting have been blamed for the surge in cases.
Mr Modi and his home minister made dozens of speeches in West Bengal and were accused of focusing on the polls rather than the pandemic.