Lucknow: Voting for the first of the four-phase Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections, seen as a semi-final to the 2022 Assembly election, is being held today in 18 districts with ballot papers. Polling will take place from 7 am to 6 pm with Covid-19 protocols in place.
During polling, the voters will have to put up a mask and maintain social distancing. Instructions have also been issued to make circles at a distance of six-feet at the polling centres.
The Allahabad High Court had asked the state government to complete the panchayat-election process by May 25.
Also Read | Restaurants are now down to the waterline
List of districts that will go to polls in first phase
Ayodhya, Agra, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur, Jaunpur, Jhansi, Allahabad, Bareilly, Bhadohi, Mahoba, Rampur, Raebareli, Shravasti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Saharanpur, Hardoi and Hathras.
Over 3.33 lakh candidates in the fray
More than 3.33 lakh candidates in the fray in over 2.21 lakh seats in the first phase for the posts of zila panchayat (district council) members, kshetra (block) panchayat members, village panchayat heads and wards.
For the post of zila panchayat members, 11,442 candidates are in the fray from 779 wards, while as many as 81,747 candidates are contesting in 19,313 wards of kshetra panchayats.
For the gram panchayat, there are 1,14,142 candidates for 14,789 posts. For gram panchayat wards, there are 1,26,613 candidates for 1,86,583 seats.
Parties in the race
Apart from parties like the BJP, BSP, Samajwadi Party and the Congress, among those in the race are the AIMIM, Aam Aadmi Party and Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad’s Azad Samaj Party, which are making their debut in the state. The AIMIM will contest polls with the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party
In view of the coronavirus situation, the State Election Commission (SEC) had said in March that not more than five people would be allowed to accompany a candidate during door-to-door campaigning for the panchayat elections.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh reported 20,510 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking the number of active cases in the state to 1,11,835.