As vote counting continued for the Uttar Pradesh Panchayat elections on Sunday, 2 May, flouting of COVID-appropriate behaviour was observed in many counting rooms.
Amid the massive COVID surge, vote counting for UP’s panchayats is taking place in 829 centres across the state. The State Election Commission (SEC) announced that by Sunday afternoon, 3.19 lakh candidates had been elected unopposed.
The Supreme Court on Saturday had allowed the SEC in Uttar Pradesh to hold counting of votes on Sunday for the rural polls. This came after raising concerns over COVID surge and citing a petition from a teachers' body that said 700 teachers died while they were on election duty during the four-phased elections.
The apex court had asked the State Election Commission, “You want to proceed despite all odds? Heavens will not fall if counting is deferred by three weeks.”
The UP Election Commission, however, told the court: "We have taken a decision to go ahead."
The SC had asked the SEC to preserve CCTV footage of counting centres and also said, "If something goes wrong, senior officers on duty will be held accountable."
Voting for the four-phased elections for 8.69 lakh posts had ended on Thursday. A voter turnout of 75 percent was recorded in the final phase.
A strict curfew has been imposed in the entire state during the counting of votes till Tuesday morning and no victory rallies have been permitted.
People were observed blatantly flouting COVID norms in Hathras and Moradabad. Hathras Congress tweeted a video to show the lack of social distancing.
Elections were held for four levels of posts – gram panchayat, gram pradhan, block panchayat, and zila panchayat. Officials expect at least half the posts of gram panchayat members to go unopposed, and 18-20 percent to go uncontested, The Indian Express reported.
In Prayagraj, election result was declared through a toss of a coin as a tie breaker between two candidates. Raj Bahadur and Bhunwar Lal in Karaundi gram sabha. Bhunwar Lal was declared village head, The Times of India reported.
In Varanasi, 21-year-old Menaka Pathak was elected as the village head from Odar gram panchayat after defeating her nearest rival Anita by a margin of 124 votes.
(With inputs from TOI and Indian Express)