LUCKNOW: UP’s urban local bodies polls, scheduled to be held before July 15, are likely to be postponed and now held around October. Highly placed sources told TOI that while the government was likely to issue an order for the postponement citing discrepancies in voters’ list revision and complaints about rapid OBC survey, the state election commission may defer the notification till September second week.
On a statewide tour to assess the preparations, state election commissioner Satish Kumar Agarwal had expressed his dissatisfaction over the law and order and police inaction in booking criminals, slapping Goonda Act and NSA on the hardened criminals and poor percentage of arrests in the cases where the accused were named. However, despite these concerns, the state election commission was ready to hold the elections.
However, what has forced the government to rethink, say sources, is the alleged irregularities in the voters list and the flooding of complaints in the rapid survey for the reservation of the constituencies in the local bodies and the holy month of Ramzaan in June. Speaking at a function in Kanpur on May 20, chief minister Adiya Nath Yogi had hinted that the civic polls may be delayed.
Besides, as reported by TOI on May 21, BJP was not in favour of holding the elections out of fear that its core urban voters may not come out to vote due to heat wave. Besides, the party also wanted that elections to the newly formed municipal corporations — Ayodyha-Faizabad and Mathura-Vrindavan should be held along with all others. It was not possible in the June-July schedule.
“Since neither the voters list revision nor the caste survey of the constituencies in the two recently formed municipal corporations — formed recently — has taken place the elections to the two municipal corporations were not possible with the rest of the state in July and had to be held later. This was not favoured by the state government and the ruling party, both, as going to the polls in the two religious places, which hold their huge political significance at the state and the national level, after the main polls ,would have drawn national attention and any reverse to the BJP would have dented its image,” says a political observer.
This is not first time when civic elections are being delayed in the state. In previous regimes under Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, these elections were delayed by six months to one year. In fact, Mayawati was not in favour of even holding the elections after coming to power in 2007 and the Opposition had to knock to the doors of the Supreme Court which ordered for the elections.
“Another factor is the fatigue among voters and party workers,” says a senior minister, “voters of the state are just settling down after a high-voltage assembly elections and another election in less than four months might keep them away from booths. The average voter turnout in 2012 urban bodies polls was around 35% and in some places like Allahabad and Lucknow, it dipped alarming to less than 25% cent. With the mercury touching as high as 45 degrees, a repeat of the low turnout may hit the prospects of the BJP.”
The BJP leadership feels that the party’s cadre is also tired and exhausted after the state elections and their lack of interest in the urban polls might dent its prospects. “So, a common refrain was to delay it as long as possible to give adequate time to workers to get re-energized and charge up for another round of high staked polls of the urban local bodies,” he says.
Meanwhile, in view of the concerns on the voter”s list, the SEC has extended the revision dates for revision of the voters list and remove the discrepancies in it till June 5. Similarly, the state government is likely to order a fresh rapid survey of the OBC population in the state to be completed in 45 days.