UP district panchayat chiefs’ polls: BJP, Opposition trade barbs after controversy over nominations

Updated on Jun 27, 2021 10:20 PM IST

June 29 is the last date for the withdrawal of nominations. The district panchayat chairpersons’ election is scheduled on July 3.

Supporters of candidates jostle for space at the entrance to the Gorakhpur collectorate office. (PTI PHOTO)
Supporters of candidates jostle for space at the entrance to the Gorakhpur collectorate office. (PTI PHOTO)

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Opposition fired verbal volleys at each other on Sunday after Saturday’s controversy-hit nominations for the zila panchayat chairpersons’ polls.

While the BJP looked to have the upper hand in a majority of the 75 districts, the Opposition, which has accused the ruling party of “foul play”, sought to portray it as BJP’s “desperate bid” to make an impression ahead of the 2022 UP assembly polls.

The zila panchayat chairpersons are elected by zila panchayat ward members.

In April, maximum ward members backed by SP had won the polls and the BJP now looked to make amends in the elections for the zila panchayat chairpersons.

The scene would be a little clearer on June 29, the last date for the withdrawal of nominations. Political observers are expecting several “withdrawals”. The final picture would be officially known on July 3, the voting and counting day.

As of now, the BJP looked set to win unopposed in at least 17 districts, the SP in its bastion of Etawah even as the Opposition-backed zila panchayat members were holding press meets to talk of the alleged “irregular practices” by the administration.

“The BJP is headed for a landslide win, a trailer ahead of the 2022 UP polls. The SP was unable to find candidates and workers in several places and that’s why it even expelled district chiefs at 11 places, majority of them in places where they were unable to put up candidates,” said UP BJP spokesman Manish Shukla.

Dismissing the charge, SP MLC Udaiveer Singh said, “The BJP has read the writing on the wall. Just wait for a few months when people will finally show the door to this government.”

The BSP that had backed candidates for zila panchayat ward members’ polls, surprisingly didn’t put up candidates for zila panchayat chairpersons’ posts, even in places like Ghaziabad and Moradabad where it had several zila panchayat ward members.

The Congress put up just one candidate in the state – in Rae Bareli, the Lok Sabha constituency of party chief Sonia Gandhi as it looked like a straight contest between SP and BJP in Amethi, another Congress bastion that BJP wrested in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

“The manner in which Opposition candidates were beaten up, prevented from filing nominations is shocking,” UP Congress Committee (UPCC) Ajay Kumar Lallu alleged.

Police arrested several SP workers in Mahoba who had come prepared to wave black flags at visiting UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh.

In Unnao, images of party MP Sakshi Maharaj blessing rebel Arun Singh, who filed his nomination as independent despite being hurriedly replaced by the BJP, embarrassed the ruling party.

In Etah, both BJP and SP got two candidates each to file the nomination. There are 41 districts where there is a straight contest primarily between BJP and SP though in 11 other districts, a three-way contest is likely, provided there are no withdrawals in these districts by Tuesday. A maximum five candidates are in the fray in Bhadohi.

UP BJP chief hits out at SP

Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Swatantra Dev has hit out at the Samajwadi Party (SP) for making allegations about his party in connection with the district panchayat chairpersons’ poll nominations.

“Facing a certain defeat, the SP leaders are now blaming BJP though their leader has found a way to shun owning defeat by blaming district party chiefs,” he said in Bundelkhand.

“They who abused each democratic institution, are now talking ethics and morality. When SP leaders were indoors at the height of Covid surge, the BJP cadres were out, helping the poor and needy,” the state chief added.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Manish Chandra Pandey is a Lucknow-based assistant editor with Hindustan Times’ political bureau in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Along with political reporting, he loves to write off beat/human interest stories that people connect with. Manish also covers departments. He feels he has a lot to learn not just from veterans but from the newcomers who make him realise that there is so much to unlearn

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