Temperatures in several northern states are likely to surpass 47C over the next few days Commuters drinking water from pot during hot summer day in sector 62, on May 19, 2024 in Noida, India. It was very hot in the city on Saturday. © Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

A ‘red alert’ has been issued in several states in northern India for the next five days, as the country grapples with a heat wave amid polls to elect the next government.

Temperatures in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, and western Uttar Pradesh regions are expected to soar above 47C (116F), according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Last month, several parts of the country experienced the hottest April on record, resulting in the deaths of at least nine people, according to a Reuters report. In eastern India, the average temperature was 28.12C, the warmest since records began in 1901.

The World Meteorological Organization warned last year that temperatures could be higher throughout the summer globally due to the El Nino phenomenon.

The heat wave in India has been cited by analysts as one of the reasons for low voter turnout in the first four phases of the seven-phase general election, which began on April 19. In a slight turnaround, however, voter turnout in the fifth phase of the election on Monday, held across 49 parliamentary constituencies, surpassed the polling figures recorded in the same constituencies in 2019.

Meanwhile, India’s independent election commission has formed a task force to review heat waves and humidity five days before each polling phase for “any concerning developments and mitigatory measures,” it said.

In the next phase on May 25, voting will be held in 58 parliamentary constituencies across six states and two union territories, including Delhi. In the capital, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will face the challenge of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is in power at the legislative level.

During the last phase on June 1, all eyes will be on Varanasi, the holy site from where Modi is eyeing re-election. The results of the polls are due on June 4.

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