More than 333,000 candidates are in the fray this time in over 221,000 seats for the posts of district council members, block panchayat members, village panchayat heads and wards
Lucknow: Voting for the first of the four-phase Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections, seen as a semi-final to the 2022 Assembly election, began on Thursday in 18 districts with ballot papers.
More than 3.33 lakh candidates in the fray for over 2.21 lakh seats in the first phase for the posts of zila panchayat (district council) members, kshetra (block) panchayat members, village panchayat heads and wards.
“The polling is going on smoothly and no problem is reported from anywhere in the state. The polling, which started at 7 am, will continue till 8 pm,” a senior State Election Commission (SEC) official said.
In Jhansi, Nirmala Sahu, a woman polling officer posted at Jauri Bujurg, a polling centre in Badagaon block died after she felt uneasiness, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), City, Vivek Tripathi said.
The woman felt uneasiness and before she could be rushed to hospital she died, the ASP said, adding that the exact cause of her death could be ascertained after post-mortem.
Gorakhpur: Residents of Vantangia villages cast their votes for panchayat polls, for the first time ever. The villages were declared revenue village by CM Yogi Adityanath in 2018. Voting for the first phase of UP Panchayat polls are being held today. pic.twitter.com/kzfr5GmeZa
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) April 15, 2021
The districts where polling is underway include Ayodhya, Agra, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur, Jaunpur, Jhansi, Allahabad, Bareilly, Bhadohi, Mahoba, Rampur, Raebareli, Shravasti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Saharanpur, Hardoi and Hathras.
For the post of zila panchayat members, 11,442 candidates are in the fray from 779 wards, while as many as 81,747 candidates are contesting in 19,313 wards of kshetra panchayats.
For the gram panchayat, there are 1,14,142 candidates for 14,789 posts. For gram panchayat wards, there are 1,26,613 candidates for 1,86,583 seats.
Apart from parties like the BJP, BSP, Samajwadi Party and the Congress, among those in the race are the AIMIM, Aam Aadmi Party and Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad’s Azad Samaj Party, which are making their debut in the state. The AIMIM will contest polls with the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party.
The candidates will, however, contest on “free symbols” given the the Election Commission.
Expressing confidence over Congress’ performance, state spokesperson Ashok Singh had said the panchayat elections would spring a surprise in the state as it would perform “brilliantly”.
“People who are virtually fed up with the misrule and misgovernance of the four-year-old BJP government in Uttar Pradesh are looking towards the Congress with hope in their eyes,” Singh said. “The panchayat elections will unfurl the wave of change in the state.”
Reacting to it, BJP state media co-convenor Navin Srivastava had said: “The way in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have worked for the villagers, poor and farmers, it is evident that the BJP will sweep the panchayat polls.”
“The work done by the government in arranging ration and employment for lakhs of people who migrated back to the state during the corona pandemic will help the BJP to win the election,” Srivastava said.
In view of the coronavirus situation, the State Election Commission (SEC) had said in March that not more than five people would be allowed to accompany a candidate during door-to-door campaigning for the panchayat elections.
Additional Election Commissioner Ved Prakash Verma had said a three-member team was formed under the additional district magistrates to ensure the directives issued by the SEC were being followed.
At the district-level, the chief medical officers were made nodal officers.
The Allahabad High Court had asked the state government to complete the panchayat-election process by 25 May.
The voting for the second phase will be on 19 April, the third on 26 April and the fourth phase on 29 April, while the votes will be counted on 2 May along with the Assembly election results of five states