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Indian minister collapses at election rally (VIDEO)

The politician was addressing a crowd in Maharashtra amid intense temperatures ahead of polling on Friday

Indian Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari collapsed on Thursday while delivering a speech in the western state of Maharashtra, as the country struggles with an extreme heat wave.

The distressing incident happened during a live broadcast of Gadkari’s speech on his social media accounts. The minister was carried away and received first aid, but returned to the platform shortly afterwards to finish his address.

“I felt discomfort due to the heat at the rally,” Gadkari later clarified on X (formerly Twitter), adding that he was “completely healthy.” 

Gadkari was delivering remarks in support of Rajashri Patil, an election candidate from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) backed by the regional Shiv Sena group. Polling in eight constituencies out of 48 will be held in Maharashtra on Friday, which marks the second phase of voting. The first phase was held on April 19. The state is the second-largest contributor of MPs to India’s Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, after Uttar Pradesh.

Voting is taking place as India battles an intense heat wave in which temperatures have reached near-record highs in some parts of the country. According to the national meteorological authorities, a prolonged spell of extreme heat is expected over east and south peninsular India for at least the next five days. An alert has also been issued for parts of Maharastra’s capital, Mumbai, from April 27 to 29, with temperatures expected to surpass 40C (104F).


READ MORE: India votes: How 970 million people are deciding on who the leader of world’s new powerhouse will be

The heat wave has been cited as a reason for the lower-than-expected turnout during the first phase of polling last week. The average turnout registered across the states scheduled for voting on April 19 was around 66.1%, a dip of 4% from the 2019 election. India’s 18th general election is being held in seven phases, during which around 970 million people are expected to cast their votes to elect the next government.

Given the low turnout, the Election Commission of India has discussed steps to ensure polling is not affected by heat in the remaining six phases, national media reported. A taskforce will review heat waves and humidity five days before each polling phase for any “concerning developments,” and will take mitigatory measures if necessary. Voting runs until June 1, and the results will be announced on June 4.

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April 25, 2024 at 02:47PM
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