The third phase of the rural body elections are underway in Uttar Pradesh today. The state government is facing criticism for holding the elections amid the second wave of COVID19 pandemic. CM Yogi Adityanath-led state government has stated that the Allahabad High Court’s order compelled it to conduct the elections.
The state government explained that it was impossible not to obey the order issued by the High Court. Photo: Gaon Connection
The third phase of panchayat elections is underway in 20 districts of Uttar Pradesh today. Yesterday, the state reported 35,614 fresh COVID-19 cases and 208 deaths. Amid criticism on holding elections while corona cases are rising sharply, the state government has clarified that the “Allahabad High Court’s order compelled the state government to conduct the elections”. In its press statement, the Uttar Pradesh government stated that it did not want to hold these polls.
“Contrary to the misinformation campaign against the Yogi government, the decision to conduct the elections of the Gram Panchayats stemmed from the directions of the Allahabad High Court to the Government of the State of Uttar Pradesh,” a statement issued yesterday by the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath-led government said.
The state government further explained that it was impossible not to obey the order issued by the High Court.
In the writ petition number 23377 of 2020 filed by Vinod Upadhyay against the State of Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court in its order dated February 4, 2021, directed the State Election Commission to complete the direct elections process of the panchayats by April 30, 2021. In compliance, the state government initiated the process of reservation and allotment by March 15, 2021, clarified the press note.
“The state government did not want to conduct panchayat elections in 2021, but it was not possible to disobey the orders of the High Court. The Allahabad High Court had asked the Uttar Pradesh government to complete the Direct Elections process of the Panchayats by May 10, 2021. The state Government started the process timely,” it added.
As the second wave of COVID19 coincides with the rural body panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh,the villagers have expressed fears that the crowds at the polling centres can possibly spread COVID19 in their villages.
Their fears are not baseless.
In Barkherwa village in Sitapur, 40 of the 152 villagers screened on April 20 had tested positive for the coronavirus. Public health experts warn that Barkherwa is just the tip of the iceberg of what lies ahead for rural India as the second wave of COVID19 pandemic pushes the country’s health infrastructure to the brink.
The four-phased panchayat elections in the state commenced on April 15 and the counting of votes and declaration of results will take place on May 2.
Voting for the third phase of the panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh is underway with more than 352,000 candidates in the fray in over 214,000 seats across 20 districts of the state. Fourth phase is scheduled for April 29.
In the third phase, voting is underway in Shamli, Meerut, Moradabad, Pilibhit, Kasganj, Firozabad, Auraiya, Kanpur Dehat, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Fatehpur, Unnao, Amethi, Barabanki, Balrampur, Siddharthanagar, Deoria, Chandauli, Mirzapur and Ballia.
“So far, on the instructions of the Chief Minister, revenue villages have been sprayed with street-bleaching powder, sodium hypochlorite and fogging is also being done. Fogging is being done and pesticides are also being sprayed as per the requirement to protect the people from getting infected,” the Uttar Pradesh government stated in a press release.