3.19 lakh candidates elected unopposed in UP panchayat elections: SEC

Lucknow: A total of 3.19 lakh candidates have been elected unopposed in the Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections, the State Election Commission said on Sunday.

"As many as 3,19,317 candidates have been elected unopposed in the 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 in this panchayat election. As many as 178 candidates for the post of pradhan of gram panchayats were also elected unopposed," the SEC said in a statement.

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 Singh's condition deteriorated suddenly and he was taken to a doctor who declared him dead.

Counting of votes for the panchayat polls in Uttar Pradesh began on Sunday morning, an official said.

"The counting of votes will continue till all the ballots are counted. The entire process may take two days," a senior SEC official told PTI.

The State Election Commission (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 entire state till Tuesday morning and no victory rallies will be permitted.

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

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

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

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

The SEC said at every counting 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 counting centres. Everyone entering the counting centre has to undergo thermal scanning, the SEC said.

It categorically stated that there will be a complete ban on victory processions.

Voting for the panchayat polls in Uttar Pradesh ended on April 29 with a 75-per cent 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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