Lucknow: Polling for the fourth and final phase of the three tier panchayat polls in Uttar Pradesh covering 17 districts commenced on a peaceful note on Thursday morning.
Over 2.98 crore voters were eligible to cast their votes in these 17 districts at 48,460 polling booths to decide the fate of over 2.10 lakh candidates for total 1,11,053 posts.
Polling which commenced at 0700 hours will end at 1800 hours.
State Election Commission(SEC) officials here said that polling was peaceful and in the first two hours around 10 per cent of the voters have exercised their rights.
Long queues of the voters particularly of the women were witnessed outside most of the polling booths.
SEC said in the last phase 717 gram panchayat members, 35 Pradhans, 413 Khetra panchayat members and 3 Zila panchayat members were elected unopposed.
There are a total of 738 posts of Zilla Panchayat member, 18556 of Kshetra Panchayat member, 14111 posts of Gram Pradhan and 77648 posts of Gram Panchayat ward member in the fourth phase.
The first phase of polling in 18 districts were held on April 15 when around 71 per cent of the over 3 crore voters used their franchise. However, due to violence in some places in the first phase, repolling have been ordered in 20 booths of 9 districts on April 21.
In the second phase of polling held on April 19 in 20 districts, when around 73 per cent voters used their franchise. In the third phase polling held on April 26 in 20 districts, over 73 per cent of voters used their franchise.
The SEC has appointed 20 observers to monitor the transparency and fairness of the polling in this phase while 243708 polling personnel and officials are deployed in this phase.
Polling will be held in the districts are: Bulandshahar, Hapur, Sambhal, Shahjahanpur ,Aligarh, Mathura, Farrukhabad, Banda ,Kaushambi ,Sitapur, Ambedkaranagar ,Bahraich, Basti Kushinagar, Ghazipur ,Sonbhadra and Mau.
Elections for 58,189 village panchayats of Uttar Pradesh are taking place in four phases, between April 15 and 29, with the counting of votes scheduled for May 2.
This panchayat polls is termed as a semi final before the 2022 assembly polls in the state.
The polls will be a key test of the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government’s popularity, and an opportunity for opposition parties to gauge the public mood, particularly as they come against the backdrop of persisting farmers’ protests in the country that have also gripped parts of UP.
State primary teachers association have opposed the panchayat polls in view of the pandemic and even threatened to boycott the counting process.
The association alleged that around 200 teachers doing poll duties have either died or fell critical ill due to Covid .
Meanwhile, State Election Commissioner Manoj Kumar has said that all observers have been instructed to follow the model code of conduct in panchayat elections.