Lucknow: The voting in the fourth and final phase of the Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections will be held on Thursday (April 29) amid the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
Over 5.27 lakh candidates are in the fray for more than 2.10 lakh seats across 17 districts in this round of the election.
“More than 2.98 crore voters will be casting their votes in the fourth and last phase of the polls which will be held from 7 am to 6 pm,” officials said.
The polling is scheduled in the districts of Ambedkar Nagar, Aligarh, Kushinagar, Kaushambi, Ghazipur, Farrukhabad, Bulandshahr, Basti, Bahraich, Banda, Mau, Mathura, Shahjahanpur, Sambhal, Sitapur, Sonbhadra and Hapur, the State Election Commission (SEC) said.
According to the poll body, there are 10,679 candidates in the fray for 738 posts of Zila panchayat members in the final phase. A total of 55,408 candidates are contesting for 18,356 posts of kshetra panchayat members.
While 1,14,400 candidates are in the fray for posts of gram panchayat members, 3,47,436 contestants are fighting for 1,77,648 posts in gram panchayat wards, it said.
The candidates will contest on ‘free symbols’ given by the State Election Commission.
In the first phase of the polls held on April 15, an average polling percentage of 71 was recorded. The second phase of the polls on April 19 also saw over 71 per cent of polling.
In the third phase of the polls held on April 26, a polling percentage of 73.5 was recorded, according to SEC officials.
The 2015 panchayat polls had registered a polling percentage of 72.11, the poll panel said.
Meanwhile, more than 170 people, including three candidates for village pradhan posts (gram panchayat), have been charged under the Disaster Management Act at police stations Lodha, Gangiri and Iglas during the past 24 hours.
“All the three candidates were holding rallies and processions wherein none of the participants was wearing masks,” Senior Superintendent of Police of Aligarh Kalanidhi Naithani said in a statement in Aligarh.
In view of the coronavirus situation, the SEC had last month announced that not more than five people would be allowed to accompany a candidate during door-to-door campaigning for the panchayat elections.
Additional Election Commissioner Ved Prakash Verma had said three-member teams were formed under the additional district magistrates to ensure that directives issued by the SEC were being followed.
At the district level, chief medical officers have been made nodal officers emphasise following COVID-19 protocol.
Voters will mandatorily have to wear masks and maintain social distancing at polling booths. Instructions have also been issued to make circles maintaining a distance of six feet between voters standing in the queue.
Verma had said COVID-19 norms would also be followed during the counting of votes and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits would be arranged according to requirements.
The Allahabad High Court had asked the Uttar Pradesh government to conclude the panchayat election process by May 25.
The counting of votes will take place on May 2.