Uttar Pradesh zila panchayat chief polls: BJP, SP at loggerheads after saffron party claims landslide win

The BJP and Samajwadi Party are at loggerheads over the results of the Uttar Pradesh zila panchayat chief polls, which comes months ahead of the crucial Assembly election in the state.

The Samajwadi Party lashed out at the BJP after the saffron party claimed that it had swept the polls on Saturday. The BJP, which is ruling the state, claimed that candidates backed by it had won 67 of 75 posts.

However, the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party alleged that the ruling party "kidnapped" voters and used "force" to stop them from voting.

Yadav accused the BJP of making a "mockery" of the elections, and noted that it was "strange that while most results in the polls for the district panchayat members were in favour of his outfit, the BJP gained in the contest for the district panchayat chief".

"To convert its defeat into victory, the BJP got the voters kidnapped, used force with the help of police and administration to stop them from voting," Yadav alleged.

Though the panchayat polls in Uttar Pradesh are not held on the party symbol and the state Election Commission did not announce the party affiliation of the winning candidates, the BJP claimed that the candidates backed by it won on 67 of 75 posts, the elections for which were held on Saturday.

How do the numbers stand?

On Saturday, the polling in 53 districts began at 11 am and continued till 3 pm, after which the votes were counted.

Twenty-one of the BJP-supported candidates won unopposed, including in Varanasi and Gorakhpur. Of the 53 seats for which polling was conducted, the saffron party won 45. Additionally, the BJP's partner in the NDA, Apna Dal, won the Sonebhadra seat.

An Independent candidate, Srikala Reddy, won the Jaunpur seat, The Times of India reported.

On the Opposition front, the SP-RLD alliance was the only one to make some gains in the polls. While the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) boycotted the election, the Congress failed to win the only seat it had contested in Rae Bareli.

BSP chief Mayawati had said her party has decided not to contest the elections as it wants to "channel its energy on strengthening the organisation before the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls 2022".

"Once the BSP forms its government in the state, the majority of the zila panchayat chairmen themselves will join the BSP as they cannot function without power. We have kept this fact in mind and so decided not to contest the elections," she had said.

The SP won Etawah unopposed and also swept Azamgarh. The party also saw wins in Etah, Sant Kabir Nagar, and Ballia, Hindustan Times reported. The RLD won the Baghpat seat.

In the evening, the state Election Commission released a list of winning candidates.

According to reports from Ballia, the son of former Uttar Pradesh minister Ambika Singh, who had returned to the SP from the BSP recently, won the election.

In Ballia, police also detained six people, including four women, for trying to cast fake votes, the incharge of Ballia City Kotwali Bal Mukund Mishra was quoted as saying by PTI.

Narendra Modi, Yogi Adityanath laud UP BJP for win

Lauding the BJP's "glorious win" in zila panchayat polls in Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that this was people's blessings to the party for its work for development, public service and rule of law.

In a tweet, he credited the policies of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and tireless efforts of party workers for the win.

"Congratulations to the Uttar Pradesh government and BJP's organisation," Modi said.

Claiming victory, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath said Modi's popularity and welfare policies initiated by his government and the Centre are responsible for the party's good show.

"This is the manifestation of public confidence in the good governance that has been established in Uttar Pradesh. Thanks to all people of the state and a hearty congratulations for the victory," he said.

UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh echoed their statements and said, "The BJP+ (BJP and its allies) has won 67 out of 75 seats of zila panchayat chairpersons. For these unprecedented results, I thank people of the state and hardworking party workers."

"The victory march that began in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections under the prime minister's leadership has continued till now and on the basis of the works done by Modi and Yogi, the BJP will form government with majority in the Assembly polls next year," Singh added.

Asking the Opposition parties to accept the defeat, Singh said in their frustration, they are out to reject the mandate.

With inputs from PTI