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Violence mar filing of papers for block pramukh posts; Opposition accuses BJP of ‘mocking’ democracy

The BJP, however, dismissed the allegation of violence and anarchy and claimed to have won at least 276 of 825 block panchayat pramukh posts unoposed

The Opposition slammed the ruling BJP, accusing it of resorting to violence and disrespecting women during the filing of nominations for block panchayats chief posts in the local polls in Uttar Pradesh. However, the BJP denied the allegations and claimed to have won at least 276 of the 825 block pramukh posts unopposed.

The nomination process for the block panchayat chief elections in Uttar Pradesh was marred on Thursday with reports of large scale violence, firing and allegations of nomination papers being snatched from several districts of the state.

Violence reported in 14 areas during UP local polls

Additional Director General (Law & Order) Prashant Kumar told NDTV said violence was reported from 14 areas, including Sitapur, Bahraich, Unnao, Kannauj, Jaunpur, Etah, Basti and Sidharthnagar.

In Lakhimpur Kheri, around 130 kilometres from Lucknow, police filed a molestation case after a video of a woman, who was reportedly a proposer for the Samajwadi Party candidate, being harassed by a group of men at the nomination centre became viral on social media.

Sharing the video, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav accused BJP workers of perpetrating violence. He described them as “power hungry goons of (Chief Minister) Yogi Adityanath”.

“Anarchy and violence by BJP leaders and workers during nomination for block pramukh posts is nothing but a mockery of democracy. Members of the ruling BJP are openly throttling democracy and the police administration is a mute spectator to it. The block pramukh candidates, who could not submit their nomination papers, should be given another chance, or the entire process should be done afresh,” the SP chief said.

‘Murder of democracy’: Congress, SP allege ruling party made mockery of local polls

District Samajwadi Party president Ram Pal Yadav alleged that at first the BJP supporters misbehaved with the woman proposer and then inside the block office, they removed the clothes of the party’s woman candidate.

Speaking to the Indian Express, the Samajwadi Party leader said: “Our party-backed candidate had gone to file her nomination papers at the block office. She had a woman proposer with her. When the woman proposer was about to reach the gates of the block office, the BJP supporters stopped her and started misbehaving with her. When the candidate reached inside the premises, one Braj Singh and one Yash Verma of the BJP snatched her purse thinking that her nomination papers were inside it. They even removed our candidate’s sari. She somehow managed to reach the Returning Officer’s chamber and handed over her nomination papers. But several BJP members were already there. They snatched her papers and tore them. Our MLC and others were beaten up and their vehicles were damaged.”

He also said that the candidate in Lakhimpur Kheri was unable to file her nomination as the papers were torn.

Lakhimpur Kheri Superintendent of Police Vijay Dhull said that the two men who were misbehaving with the woman have been arrested and will be produced before the court, reported the Times of India.

Slamming the saffron party for misusing official machinery, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that violence has been renamed “masterstroke” in the state.

The former Congress chief tweeted a newspaper clipping detailing incidents of violence during filing nomination for block president polls in various parts of the state. “In Uttar Pradesh, the name of ‘violence’ should be changed to ‘masterstroke’,” he wrote.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also hit out at the BJP government, saying that democracy was being “ripped off” in the state.

Posting a purported video of violence on her Twitter handle, she said “The PM and CM, please congratulate your workers in UP who resorted to bombs, stones and bullets, who snatched nomination papers, beat up journalists and misbehaved with women.”

She further said the law and order situation in the state was “blindfolded” and alleged that democracy was being “disrobed”.

In a series of tweets, BSP supremo Mayawati said that “the gross misuse of official machinery, money power and violence” during the polls for the district and block panchayat chiefs reminded her of the Samajwadi Party rule.

“That is why the BSP decided not to contest both these indirect elections,” she said.

Meanwhile, state Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu expressed shock over the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, saying it shows “BJP’s audacity to do cheer haran“.

“It tells that the government in Uttar Pradesh was watching everything like Dhritarashtra and openly patronised the goons,” he alleged, seeking an apology from the BJP government.

The manner in which the goons openly misused the government machinery, played with the honour of women and prevented Opposition candidates from filing nominations proves that the Bharatiya Janata Party and its government do not believe in democracy, Lallu said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party said it will hold agitations at all tehsil headquarters across the state on 15 July to protest the alleged irregularities in the elections to the posts of district and block panchayat chiefs, reported PTI.

In a statement, the party said that its workers and members will protest against the “murder of democracy” by the BJP government. The party will also submit a memorandum to Governor Anandiben Patel on matters related law and order, inflation, unemployment, agricultural laws and health services.

What is the BJP saying?

Denying the allegations leveled by the Opposition, state BJP vice-president Vijay Bahadur Pathak said that the party does not support any kind of violence. “If there has been any violence in districts, the administration will do the needful,” he said.

Commenting on the incident in Lakhimpur Kheri, the BJP leader said the video clips were short and “do not present the entire story”.

“We are making gains in the panchayat elections as we have been working hard since day one. We appointed block coordinators and made people contest, and the results are now starting to show,” Pathak added.

With inputs from agencies

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