UP panchayat polls begin today: All you need to know about first phase of voting
Elections for the 58,189 village panchayats in Uttar Pradesh have started with polling in the first phase today amid strict protocols to check the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The second, third and fourth phase will witness polling on April 19, April 26 and April 29 respectively. Counting of votes will be done on May 2.
These panchayat elections are crucial ahead of the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh next year.
Here is all you need to know about the first phase of voting in the UP panchayat elections:
1. Polling for the first phase will take place across 18 districts including Ayodhya, Agra, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur, Jaunpur and Jhansi. Voters will exercise their franchise by the means of paper ballot. The timings of polling are from 7am to 6pm.
2. More than 333,000 candidates are in the fray this time in over 221,000 seats for the posts of zila panchayat (district council) members, kshetra (block) panchayat members, village panchayat heads and wards.
3. A total of 11,442 candidates from 779 wards are in the fray for the post of zila panchayat members. For kshetra panchayat, 81,747 candidates are contesting in 19,313 wards. There are 114,142 candidates for 14,789 posts of the gram panchayat and 126,613 candidates for 186,583 seats for the gram panchayat wards.
4. At the time of casting votes, all voters will be required to wear face masks, sanitise their hands and ensure social distancing at all times, as per the Covid-19 guidelines issued by the state election commission (SEC) in late March. Polling booths will be sanitised and voters and polling staff will be thermally screened.
5. The commission also said that not more than five people will be permitted to accompany a candidate during door-to-door campaigning.
6. Additional election commissioner Ved Prakash Verma had earlier stated that all Covid-related protcols will be adhered to during the time of counting on May 2 and PPE kits will also be provided as per requirement.
7. The top contenders in this year’s panchayat polls are the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP). Three other parties - the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad’s Azad Samaj Party - are making a debut in this year’s panchayat polls. The AIMIM has joined hands with the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party.
(With agency inputs)