June 15, 2024

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Nearly 50-degree heat wave disrupts elections in India


DelhiNearly 50 degrees: Extreme heat wave disrupts mega election in India

The mega election in India has reached its final stage. It is accompanied by intense heat. Some of Delhi’s upper classes have retreated to the hills – which will benefit the opposition.

Carolyn Duefelberger
  • India currently has over a billion voters.

  • A mega election is coming up in Delhi this weekend. Only: It’s almost 50 degrees there.

  • People are fleeing to the hills instead of going to vote.

  • This may be the downfall of current Prime Minister Modi: because he is elected primarily by high-income earners who can afford to cool off by not voting.

North India is currently experiencing extreme heat. Delhi recorded a temperature of over 49 degrees. This is already the fifth wave since March. According to the weather forecast, there is no relief in the next few days.

Tanveer Aijaz, who teaches at Delhi University, describes the heat as torture. “The demand for electricity in the city has reached a new high as everyone tries to cool their homes with air conditioners and fans.” At the same time, water supply has been affected in some parts of the megacity as the water level of the Yamuna river continues to recede.

2024 March 28, 2024 Indian General Elections Chart

Chart on 2024 Indian General Elections March 28, 2024

20 min/Jonathan Muller

Voter turnout is already down three percent

On the other hand Pappu, a tour guide from Varanasi, is happy to have electricity. Until a few weeks ago, it was not offered. “The heat is now a bit more bearable than the less extreme temperatures of the past, because at least the interior can be cooled.”

Making matters worse: the world’s biggest government election is currently underway in India. As the BBC writes, voter turnout in the first two phases has dropped by three percent compared to the last election. This could also be due to the weather.

People march without voting

Aijaz also expects low turnout when Delhi goes to polls across the city on May 25. It can be assumed that especially the upper and middle classes are staying away from the elections due to extreme heat. “I heard some of them have already gone to the mountains to enjoy the holiday weekend.”

This will mostly benefit the opposition INC and its allies (India). In contrast to the conservative ruling party, the BJP, the INC is considered left-liberal and secular.

The effect is observed on the official side as well. “Party workers are less interested in promoting their parties.” And the Election Committee has advised all the voters to be careful in this extreme heat. Standing in long queues outside polling offices can be dangerous, especially for the elderly.

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