Leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the saffron party emerges victorious in the ongoing urban local bodies polls in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has assigned tasks to 31 MLAs, whose Assembly constituencies do not have a nagar panchayat or nagar palika parishad within their limits. “Different tasks have been assigned to the 31 MLAs, ranging from actively campaigning for the party candidates to organising various events to galvanise public support for the party,” state BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi told PTI. “Take for example Satish Chandra Dwivedi. He is an MLA from the Itwa Assembly constituency in Siddharthanagar district. But, since there is no nagar panchayat or nagar palika parishad in Itwa, he has been engaged in party activities in the neighbouring Basti district,” he added. When contacted, Dwivedi said, “From election management to other tasks, I have discharged whatever duty was assigned to me by the party.” Asserting that the saffron party’s show had been “great” in the first phase of the urban local bodies election, he exuded confidence that it would “sweep” the polls.
According to the State Election Commission, 24 districts had voted in the first phase of the polls on November 22, while 25 districts went to the polls today. As many as 26 districts will go to the polls on November 29. The counting of votes polled for 16 nagar nigams, 198 nagar palika parishads and 438 nagar panchayats will be taken up on December 1. Over 3.36 crore voters will be eligible to exercise their franchise at 36,269 polling booths in these polls. The civic body polls, which are being held eight months after the BJP came to power in the state with a landslide victory, will mark the first electoral test for the Yogi Adityanath government. Though the BJP has traditionally been strong in the urban constituencies, the acid test for Chief Minister Adityanath is to match up to the saffron party’s show in the Assembly polls. In 2012, the BJP had swept the mayoral polls, winning 10 of the 12 posts of mayor in the state. Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma is now a deputy chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
Meanwhile, state BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey, in a statement issued here, said, “The feedback we had received from the party workers, after the voting ended in the first phase (of the urban local bodies polls), was indeed very encouraging. The BJP is going to bag three-fourths of all the seats in these polls.” Exuding confidence that the ruling party was going to sweep the polls, first-time MLA Pankaj Singh said, “For BJP workers, every election is a challenge. But, I am confident that the party will sweep the urban local bodies polls, as it had done in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and the 2017 UP Assembly election.” Singh has been actively campaigning for the party in Lucknow and Bareilly. In the first phase of polling, over 52 per cent voting was recorded, with Congress bastion Amethi logging a high turnout of 68.44 per cent and Adityanath’s home turf Gorakhpur registering the lowest poll percentage. The polling had passed off peacefully in all the 24 districts. Mayoral polls were also held for five municipal corporations — Agra, Kanpur, Ayodhya, Gorakhpur and Meerut.
According to the State Election Commission, the overall polling percentage in the first phase on November 22 stood at 52.59. In 2012, the polling percentage in these districts was 46.1. The highest polling in the first phase was recorded in Hamirpur, which had witnessed a 69.59 per cent turnout, followed by Amethi. The second phase of the polls saw an average voter turnout of over 50 per cent today. A total of 1.3 crore electors in 25 districts were eligible to exercise their franchise in the second phase. In 2012, the polling percentage in these districts was 43.67. Voting was held today in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Allahabad, parts of western Uttar Pradesh and state capital Lucknow, where Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma were among the first few to vote. Another deputy chief minister, Keshav Prasad Maurya, cast his ballot in Allahabad. The last and final phase of polling will be held on November 29.