Setback for BJP in key areas in UP panchayat elections
- The BJP, which came to power in UP with a landslide in 2017, also lost panchayat seats in western Uttar Pradesh, where anti-incumbency and the ongoing farmer protests against three central agrarian laws dented the party’s fortunes.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday suffered setbacks in its bastions of Ayodhya, Varanasi, Lucknow and Gorakhpur, and the Samajwadi Party inched ahead of the ruling party in the Uttar Pradesh rural body polls, the last major electoral exercise ahead of next year’s assembly elections.
The BJP, which came to power in UP with a landslide in 2017, also lost panchayat seats in western Uttar Pradesh, where anti-incumbency and the ongoing farmer protests against three central agrarian laws dented the party’s fortunes.
Trends and results available for 3,050 district panchayat wards on Tuesday evening showed SP at 760 wards, BJP at 719, Bahujan Samaj Party at 381 and Congress at 76. Independents and smaller parties secured victories or led in 1,114 wards.
“The ruling BJP is a sinking ship. The results of the panchayat elections clearly show that BJP will face defeat in the 2022 assembly elections,” said SP chief Akhilesh Yadav.
BJP state unit spokesperson Harish Chandra Srivastava said his party will secure victory on maximum wards due to the welfare schemes of the government.
Independent candidates, majority of them rebels from various political parties, are likely to play a crucial role in the election of the district panchayat chairmen to be held later this month.
The four-phase rural body elections, which began on April 16 and ended April 29, courted controversy because they were held amid a devastating surge in coronavirus infections and allegedly led to the deaths of at least 700 poll staff, a charge denied by the state government. The Allahabad high court even asked the state election commission (SEC) why action shouldn’t be taken for failing to stop rampant violations of Covid norms during campaigning. The counting of votes began Sunday morning at more than 825 centres across 75 districts. Over 869,000 posts were up for grabs, of which at least 732,000 were in gram panchayat wards, 58,176 in gram panchayats, 75,852 in block panchayats and 3,050 in district panchayats. A senior SEC official said counting of votes was likely to continue late into the night on Tuesday and refused to specify on how many seats counting was underway.
Panchayat elections are not contested on party symbols but all parties have officially released names of the candidates backed by them. SEC has said results won’t be declared on party lines. In Varanasi, SP won 15 of 40 wards, BJP seven, BSP seven and Congress five wards so far. In Ayodhya, while SP won 24 of 40 wards, BJP won six and BSP won five wards. In Lucknow, SP won 10 of 25 wards, BJP won three and BSP secured five wards. The Congress failed to win any ward in the two regions. In Gorakhpur, SP won 19 of 68 wards, BJP won 20, BSP secured two and Congress won one ward so far.
In 2015, SP had won majority of the wards followed by the BSP. The BJP had not contested in most of the wards.
“The results are disappointing,” BJP’s district spokesperson Diwakar Singh told PTI.