Uttar Pradesh’s “bloodiest ever” panchayat polls ended on Monday, with nine people having been killed in the four phases since October 11.
The polls had a turnout of 75%, with around 80 million people casting their votes in elections to more than 50,000 village councils across 70 districts in the state.
A total of 3,14,266 candidates were in the fray for the panchayat posts. This was the fourth time that the state organised panchayat polls after 1995, 2000 and 2005.
“But none of the earlier elections have seen so much violence,” said a senior police officer who did not want to be named. Four people were killed and 36 were injured in the first phase of polling on October 11, three were killed and 20 were injured in the second phase on October 14. Two more were killed and 21 were injured in the third phase, on October 20. In the fourth phase on Monday, no death was reported but at least a dozen people were injured, the police said.
“In comparison to previous phases, the fourth phase was peaceful. Voting was held in 70 districts and violence were reported only in 11 districts,” said Brij Lal, additional director general of police(law and order).
Police officials said most candidates were relatives or supporters of legislators, fielded with an eye on the 2012 assembly elections in the state.
“They are using all the tricks in the book to ensure the victory of their candidates,” a police officer said.
Flow of development funds to panchayats has turned rural politics into a big battlefield.
Funds sanctioned by the government for the rural job scheme, mid-day meal scheme and rural health are being released to panchayats.
Many candidates are investing large sums of money in campaigning and using muscle power to win.
The state home department had blamed the state election commission for the violence.