Voting for the second phase of urban body polls in Uttar Pradesh
on Sunday was marked by complaints of malfunctioning Electronic Voter Machines (EVM) and missing names in voter lists across the State. Around 48.76 per cent voting was recorded. In 2012, the voting percentage in districts that voted today was 43.67 per cent.
Officials, while admitting to lapses, however, said the turnout in the 25 districts that went to poll had increased from 46.6 per cent in 2012 to 50.52 per cent this time. The prominent contestants in a field of 19 were Sayukta Bhatia (BJP), Prema Awasthi (Congress), Bulbul Godiyal (BSP), Priyanka Maheshwari (AAP) and Meera Vardhan (SP). The last and final phase of polling will be held on November 29 and the counting of votes will be taken up on December 1. The stakes are as high for other parties, including the Congress, SP and BSP, which are hoping to make a comeback after their drubbing in the Assembly polls earlier this year. The BSP is contesting the local body polls on the party symbol after 17 years.
Names missing from voters' list
There were complaints of names missing from the voters' lists at a few places. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav tweeted that as per media reports, names of a lot of voters were missing. This type of digital India cannot take us forward, the former chief minister said taking a dig.
In some wards in Lucknow, locals alleged that entire localities and families had their names struck off the list or shifted to other wards or booths without any notice.
Not just ordinary citizens, even politicians, and well-known personalities had to suffer a similar fate. Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kalraj Mishra and UP Cabinet Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi found their names missing, too, while Dauji Gupta, former three-time Mayor of Lucknow, also missed out along with his family members, at the Naka Hindola ward.
State Election Commissioner S K Agarwal admitted there were lapses that led to some names missing from the voter lists, mainly due to the negligence of booth level officers (BLO) who had failed to update voter slips after the delimitation of wards. “In such a large State, some names are bound to be missing. No voter list can be perfect. Yes, there was laxity in making voter lists, especially in Lucknow. Action will be taken against such BLOs,” Agarwal said.
According to The Hindu, the officials also blamed voters for duplication in rural and urban area voter lists. “Some people live in both cities and villages. Those who had already voted in the Panchayat elections had their names struck off this time,” Agarwal said.
UP police arrested persons trying to vote with fake Aadhaar cards in Varanasi and Badohi.
Some voters took to Twitter to express their anger against the mismanagement.
Malfunctioning in EVMs part of the democratic process
S K Agarwal said that technical flaws and malfunctioning in EVMs were a part of the democratic process, adding that the election was not disrupted despite them. “The malfunctioning EVMs were replaced within 20-30 minutes,” he said.
Last week, during the 1st phase of UP civic polls, AAP leader Atishi Marlena demanded that the Election Commission conduct a thorough probe into allegations that electronic voting machines (EVMs) used in the Uttar Pradesh
civic body polls were casting votes only for the BJP at several places.
Marlena on Thursday told reporters that cases of EVM malfunctioning were also reported during polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
The one thing common in all cases was that the vote went to the BJP no matter which button was pressed, she claimed.
"These cases should be thoroughly investigated by the Election Commission," she said.
Polling in 2nd phase
According to the state election commission, the polling percentage in the second phase was: Sant Kabir Nagar (67.59 per cent), Shrawasti (65.80 per cent), Lalitpur (64.97 per cent), Sant Ravidas Nagar (64.23 per cent), Ambedkarnagar (64.05 per cent), Pilibhit (63.8 per cent), Banda (63.64 per cent), Muzaffarnagar (63.17 per cent), Gautam Buddh Nagar (61.65 per cent), Amroha (61.65 per cent), Ballia (60.05 per cent), Shahjahanpur (59.03 per cent), Bahraich (58.76 per cent), Mainpuri (58.68 per cent), Farrukhabad (58.53 per cent), Deoria (57.29), Rampur (54.87 per cent), Sultanpur (54.80 per cent), Etawah (53.85 per cent), Aligarh (51.41 per cent), Ghaziabad (46.90 per cent), Mathura (46.88 per cent), Varanasi (44.39 per cent), Lucknow (37.57 per cent) and Allahabad (34.20 per cent).
The ongoing urban local body election, involving over 3.3 crore voters in the 75 districts of the state, is being seen as a test for the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government.
State BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey claimed the BJP was going to bag three-fourths of all the seats.
Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessed almost 10 per cent increase in polling percentage this time, with 44.39 being the recorded figure. In 2012, the polling percentage in Varanasi was 35.4.
The mayoral elections in Allahabad saw 30.47 per cent voters casting their votes, while in Lucknow it was 36 per cent. Varanasi witnessed a voters' turnout of 43.8 per cent for the mayoral elections.