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Monday, August 02, 2021

BJP claims big win in UP panchayat chief polls: 66 of 75 seats for party-backed candidates

According to estimates released by BJP, candidates backed by the party won 66 seats, Apna Dal won one, Jansatta Dal, SP ally RLD, and one Independent candidate won one seat each, while the SP bagged five posts.

Written by Asad Rehman | Lucknow |
Updated: July 4, 2021 5:37:17 am
SP workers protest at the district collectorate in Lucknow on Saturday, alleging rigging in the counting process for the Zila Panchayat chief polls. (Express Photo by Vishal Srivastav)

The BJP on Saturday claimed to have swept the Uttar Pradesh Zila Panchayat presidents’ election, saying that candidates backed by the party won 66 out of 75 seats, with ally Apna Dal notching one, even as main opposition Samajwadi Party alleged that the ruling party had “kidnapped” voters and used “force” to stop them from voting. Out of 75 seats, 22 candidates won unopposed, one of them backed by SP and the rest by BJP.

According to estimates released by BJP, candidates backed by the party won 66 seats, Apna Dal won one, Jansatta Dal, SP ally RLD, and one Independent candidate won one seat each, while the SP bagged five posts. Sources in SP confirmed that the party had won five seats and RLD got one.

Following the results, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted (translated from Hindi): “The glorious victory of BJP in UP Zila Panchayat elections are blessings of the people for development, public service and rule of law in the state. The credit for this goes to the policies of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and hard work of the workers. Congratulations to the UP government and BJP organisation for this.”

Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda also congratulated Adityanath on the results.

Adityanath congratulated the winning candidates and credited Prime Minister Modi’s public welfare schemes for the victory. “This (win) also shows people’s confidence in good governance in the state. I thank the people and congratulate them,” he tweeted.

Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya tweeted, “The historic victory in the Zila Panchayat elections has been possible due to the organisational skills and welfare schemes of the government. Congratulations to all members of the BJP family.”

These elections are not held on party symbols but candidates enjoy tacit support of different parties. According to sources, SP’s candidates won in Etawah, Etah, Sant Kabir Nagar, Azamgarh and Balia, while the RLD candidate won in Baghpat.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav alleged that district administrations and the police were used to ensure a win for BJP candidates. “It is strange…most winning candidates in elections for Zila Panchayat members were from SP, how did BJP win more seats for presidents’ posts? They have cheated to a majority. Administrative officials were also involved in this,” he said.

Akhilesh alleged that the saffron party compromised all democratic regulations and made a “joke” out of free and fair elections. “No one has seen such an ugly face of power in the state. To convert their defeats into wins, they kidnapped voters with use of administration and police (officials) and through helpers ensured votes to their candidates. When our leaders and workers opposed this fraud and cheating, they were mistreated and misbehaved with,” he said in a statement.

SP Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav tweeted that 12.39 crore people had given SP a “big lead” in the elections but 300 officers conspired and defeated the party.

Akhilesh stated that despite giving a memorandum to the State Election Commission, demanding free and fair polls, no action was taken. “In Lucknow, a zila panchayat member who supported SP was kidnapped. SP’s candidate for Lucknow, Vijay Laxmi, was made to sit in the DM’s office and was not allowed to meet her MLA-husband Ambarish Pushkar,” Akhilesh said.

He levelled allegations of cheating and unfair means being used by the district administration and police in Prayagraj, Firozabad, Farrukhabad, Aligarh, Shamli, Rampur, Amethi, Kannauj, Hamirpur, Hapur, Auraiya, Reacting to Akhilesh’s allegations, BJP state spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said it is a classic case of not being able to accept a defeat. “When they lose in Vidhan Sabha or Lok Sabha elections, they say EVMs are manipulated. Now, they are levelling allegations on administration and police. If our party used unfair means, how did one Independent candidate win, and how did SP candidate win unopposed in Etawah? We have not used any unfair means. The election process was transparent,” Tripathi said.

Vijay Bahadur Pathak, BJP state vice-president and in-charge of Panchayat polls, said Akhilesh should respect democratic boundaries. “When his party wins in Etawah unopposed, and in Azamgarh he takes support of six out of 11 BJP members, he calls it democracy. And when six of his 11 members don’t support him, he calls it murder of democracy… The Election Commission should take cognizance of the SP chief threatening officers openly,” Pathak said.

In Ballia, where the police had booked former state minister Ambika Chaudhary of SP and two others for allegedly taking a Zila Panchayat member hostage, Chaudhary’s son Anand was elected. Chaudhary, who recently quit BSP after his son was made an SP candidate, had alleged that BJP was trying to influence the polls by using money power, muscle power and the administration.

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