Counting of votes cast during the two phases of the urban local bodies (ULB) polls and the by-election to two assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh began on Saturday morning (May 13).
Officials said most of the preparations were complete and the counting started at 8 am on Saturday (May 13). They said instructions were given to arrange cold water and sharbat at the counting centres in view of the rising heat.
The State Election Commission (SEC) said that 353 counting centres have been set up.
Lucknow District Magistrate Suryapal Gangwar and Joint Commissioner of Police Upendra Agrawal reviewed the preparations in the state capital.
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The bypolls were held in the Suar assembly seat in Rampur district and Chhanbey (SC) in Mirzapur district on May 10. There was a direct contest between the ruling coalition led by the BJP and the opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) on both seats, political analysts say.
The Suar seat became vacant in February following the disqualification of SP leader Azam Khan’s son Abdullah Azam Khan as an MLA after a Moradabad court sentenced him to two years in jail in a 15-year-old case.
The Chhanbey seat fell vacant after the death of Apna Dal (Sonelal) MLA Rahul Prakash Kol in February.
17 mayors to be elected
The ULB polls were held in two phases on May 4 and May 11. About 53 per cent of voters exercised their franchise during the ULB polls out of the total 4.32 crore who were eligible to vote, according to the Election Commission data.
Seventeen mayors and 1,401 corporators will be elected after the results are declared on Saturday (May 13). As many as 19 corporators have been elected unopposed.
Shahjahanpur will elect its mayor for the first time this year as the city became a municipal corporation in 2018. Meerut and Aligarh had Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) mayors in 2017, while the BJP ruled the rest of the civic bodies.
The ULB polls will also elect 198 chairpersons and 5,260 members of nagar palika parishads. For nagar panchayats, the fate of 542 chairpersons and 7,104 members will be decided. There were 83,378 candidates in the fray for 14,522 posts, according to the SEC.
Extensive campaigning by parties
During the campaign, senior leaders of various political parties visited different parts of the state.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputies Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak campaigned extensively for the Bharatiya Janata Party candidates. State BJP president Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary and former Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma also held election meetings for party candidates.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav held roadshows. Mainpuri MP Dimple Yadav also campaigned for party candidates.
Whoever wins the majority of seats in the ULB polls will try to showcase their strength before the crucial 2024 general election as UP sends the maximum 80 MPs to Lok Sabha. The parties and their candidates now anxiously wait for the results.
“The BJP is going to win all 17 mayor seats. It will bag a lion’s share in the corporator’s category. The party will also perform extremely well in nagar palika parishads and nagar panchayats,” UP BJP spokesperson Hero Bajpai said.
Opposition parties optimistic
SP spokesperson Deepak Ranjan said the ULB polls “will spring up a surprise.” “The cycle (SP’s election symbol) travelled far ahead, while the lotus (BJP’s symbol) did not bloom,” Ranjan asserted.
UP Congress media convenor Ashok Singh too said the party’s performance in the election will surprise everyone.
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Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) spokesperson Ankur Saxena said his party’s performance will be “very good.”
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Shekhar Dixit said the people have “blessed us in the civic polls, and the results will prove this.” He added that people have understood that AAP is the “only alternative” to the BJP.
Rajesh Srivastava, the spokesperson of the UP unit of the Apna Dal (Sonelal), exuded confidence saying, “both the candidates of the party will register emphatic wins in the assembly by-elections.”
(With inputs from agencies)