UP panchayat polls: Over 70 pc turnout till 6 pm

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Lucknow, Apr 19 (PTI) Over 70 per cent polling was recorded till 6 pm on Monday during the second phase of the Uttar Pradesh panchayat polls in 20 districts, where 3.48 lakh candidates are in the fray for over 2.23 lakh posts.

'Of the 20 districts, polling details of 14 have been compiled.

Details of six districts--Gonda, Amroha, Sultanpur, Mainpuri, Mahrajganj and Muzaffarnagar--are awaited,' a State Election Commission official said here. According to details, the polling percentage of the districts was--Bijnore (73.30), Budaun (73.57), Azamgarh (64.55), Lakhimpur Kheri (77.98), Varanasi (68), Lalitpur (80.95), Kannauj (73.81), Gautam Buddh Nagar (75.32), Etah (73.24), Pratapgarh (60.06), Etawah (75.53), Chitrakoot (64.03), Baghpat (74.84) and Lucknow (72).

Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav did not vote at his native Saifai village in Etawah district following request from family members in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to family sources, the 81-year-old leader had never missed voting in any election till now.

'We requested Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) not to come to Saifai to cast his vote this time for the panchayat elections in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and he agreed to our request. Netaji is in Delhi,' his nephew Dharmendra Yadav told PTI.

BJP MLA from Lambhua in Sultanpur, Devmani Dwivedi, said he could not cast his vote as his name was not in the voters' list.

'Barring me, names of my other family members, including my mother, who is no more, were in the voters' list,' Dwivedi told PTI.

Polling started at 7 am and went on till 6 pm on Monday.

Over 3.23 crore people were eligible to vote.

For the 787 seats of zila panchayat member, there are 11,483 candidates and for the 19,653 seats of kshetra panchayat, as many as 85,232 candidates are in the fray.

As far as the gram panchayats are concerned, there are 1,21,906 candidates for 14,897 posts and for the gram panchayat wards. The candidates are contesting on “free symbols” given by the Election Commission.

More than 2.31 lakh poll officials have been deployed by the SEC for a smooth conduct of the panchayat polls.

In the first phase, which was held on April 15, polling percentage of 71 was recorded.

The 2015 panchayat polls had registered a polling percentage of 72.11, according to the SEC.

In view of the coronavirus situation, the SEC had said last month 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 said three-member teams were formed under the additional district magistrates to ensure that the directives issued by the SEC were being followed.

At the district-level, chief medical officers have been made nodal officers and stress has been laid on COVID-19 prevention.

Voters will mandatorily have to wear masks and maintain social distancing at polling booths.

Instructions have also been issued to maintain a distance of six feet between voters in queues.

Verma said COVID-19 norms will be followed during the counting of votes and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits will be arranged according to requirements.

The Allahabad High Court had asked the Uttar Pradesh government to conclude the panchayat elections process by May 25. PTI ABN NAV RDK