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Omicron could delay Indian elections

An Indian court has urged the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to suspend political rallies and election campaigns in election-linked states amid the growing number of cases of Omicron, a variant of covid-19.

Judges at the Allahabad High Court in the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP), said on Thursday the number of people infected with Omicron was on the rise and could lead to a third wave of coronavirus. Elections for the UP state assembly, home to more than 220 million people, are scheduled for early next year but the final dates have not yet been announced. Three other states are also expected to hold local elections at the same time.

UP is a key battleground for Modi and the opposition parties because of its size and because the performance of political parties will be a barometer for the 2024 national elections. Political parties, including the ruling Bharatiya Janata party by Modi, have started organizing rallies and meetings where crowds continue to ignore pandemic protocols. Judges said, if possible, that elections due in February next year would be postponed for a few months.

“The court calls on the Honorable Prime Minister who, in view of the situation of this frightening pandemic, to take decisive action and to stop rallies, rallies and to cancel or postpone (the) next elections”, said the judges. “Because it is only if there is life that we have our world,” they said. India’s Global Count The fast-spreading Omicron variant has reached 358 cases, in 17 states, authorities said on Friday, although no deaths have been reported so far.

Modi addressed large crowds in a Hindu pilgrimage town in UP on Thursday.