Lucknow: Polling for the panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh ended Thursday with a 75 percent turnout in the final phase, marred by a group clash in Mathura and the deaths of two workers who fell ill while on poll duty. Lakhs of candidates were in the fray for over 7.32 lakh seats in gram panchayat wards, 58,176 in gram panchayats. 75,852 in kshetra panchayats and 3,050 in zila panchayats in the state-wide elections, held over four phases amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.Also Read - UP Panchayat Election 2021: Voting Across 17 Districts Underway For 4th & Final Phase
In Thursday’s fourth phase alone, over 5.27 lakh candidates contested for about 2.10 lakh seats in 17 districts. Officials said 75.38 per cent of the registered voters turned up, a polling percentage higher than the previous phases. The counting of votes will take place on May 2. Also Read - Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Polls Third Phase: Voting Begins with Over 3.52 Lakh Candidates in Fray
In Mathura district’s Barsana, eight people were injured when supporters of rival groups exchanged fire, police said. They have arrested six people from both factions. Additional Superintendent of Police (Rural) Shrish Chandra said polling was affected for some time at the Nehra village centre before they brought the situation under control. The injured were rushed to hospital, where their condition was stated to be stable. Also Read - UP Panchayat Chunav 2021: After Facing Backlash, BJP Cancels Ticket of Kuldeep Singh Sengar's Wife
In Shahjahanpur district, two government employees died after taking ill while on poll duty. Among them, sanitation worker Sobaran Lal complained of uneasiness and died later in hospital, District Magistrate Indra Vikram Singh said. The family will be given Rs 15 lakh as government assistance.
Another worker posted a video clip on social media as her health deteriorated and she was admitted to a hospital. In Kalan block too, a teacher was taken to hospital after recording a similar video. The cause of the two deaths is not immediately clear but employee associations have been alleging that several people on poll duty have succumbed to coronavirus.
In separate statements on Thursday, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav demanded compensation of Rs 50 lakh for the families of each employee who has died. Gandhi referred to an allegation that there have been about 500 such deaths.
Polling took place in Ambedkar Nagar, Aligarh, Kushinagar, Kaushambi, Ghazipur, Farrukhabad, Bulandshahr, Basti, Bahraich, Banda, Mau, Mathura, Shahjahanpur, Sambhal, Sitapur, Sonbhadra and Hapur districts on Thursday.
According to the poll body, there were 10,679 candidates in the fray for 738 posts of zila panchayat members in these districts. Also, 55,408 candidates contested for 18,356 posts of kshetra panchayat members, 1,14,400 for gram panchayats and 3,47,436 for gram panchayat wards in this phase. The first phase on April 15 and the second round on April 19 recorded a turnout of 71 per cent. In the third phase on April 26, 73.5 per cent exercised their franchise, officials said.