3.19 lakh candidates elected unopposed in U.P. panchayat polls

The entire process of counting may take two days, says an official

The State Election Commission said on Sunday 3,19,317 candidates have been elected unopposed in the Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections.

“This includes seven members of zila panchayat, 2,005 members of kshetra panchayat and over 3.17 lakh members who have been elected unopposed. 178 candidates for the post of pradhan of gram panchayats were also elected unopposed,” the SEC said.

In Ballia, Shailesh Singh (45), a candidate for the post of pradhan of Rampur village panchayat under Maniyar block, died on Sunday morning. Family sources said his condition deteriorated suddenly and he was taken to a doctor who declared him dead.

Counting of votes began on Sunday morning, an official said. “The entire process may take two days.”

The SEC had said the candidates and their agents will be allowed to enter the counting centres only if they have tested negative for COVID-19 in the 48 hours prior to the commencement of the counting process or taken both doses of the vaccine.

The Supreme Court on Saturday had refused to stay the counting process. In a special urgent hearing on a holiday (Saturday), a bench of Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice Hrishikesh Roy passed the order after taking note of several notifications and assurances of the SEC that the COVID-19 protocols will be followed at all the 829 counting centres.

The court directed that there will be a strict curfew in the State till Tuesday morning and victory rallies will not be permitted.

It also asked the SEC to fix the responsibility for observance of COVID-19 protocols at the centres on gazetted officers.

The bench directed the poll panel to preserve the CCTV footage of the centres till the Allahabad High Court concludes its hearings on the related petitions before it.

It also ordered that the officials, candidates and their agents will have to produce RT-PCR test reports to show that they are COVID-19 negative before entering the centres.

The SEC official said counting of votes generally takes place in eight-hour shifts.

The SEC said at every centre, a health desk will be established where a doctor will be present with medicines.

Those showing symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cold and cough will not be allowed at the centres. Everyone entering the centre has to undergo thermal scanning, the SEC said.

It said there will be a complete ban on victory processions.

Voting ended on April 29 with a 75% voter turnout in the fourth and final phase.

Lakhs of candidates were in the fray for over 7.32 lakh seats in the gram panchayat wards, 58,176 in the gram panchayats, 75,852 in the kshetra panchayats and 3,050 in the zila panchayats in the statewide elections held over four phases.

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