Voting for the first phase of the Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections was underway on Thursday in Kanpur district also, including at slain gangster Vikas Dubey’s Bikru village. While Dubey was being driven back after being held in Madhya Pradesh, the vehicle was involved in an accident on July 10 last year and the mob boss allegedly snatched a pistol from a policeman in a bid to escape before being killed, UP authorities had said. He was on the run since he organised the massacre of policemen at his village on July 3, 2020. A large team of policemen who went to Bikru village to arrest him in an attempted murder case was caught by surprise when there was indiscriminate firing from rooftops. Eight personnel were killed in the ambush after the gangster was allegedly tipped off by a local police inspector.
Voting is being done in 826 polling stations of Kanpur for 32 zilla panchayat seats and 590 village pradhan seats. Bikru village is witnessing polling in panchayat elections after a gap of 25 years as previously Vikas Dubey, his family members, or people close to him would win unopposed. But this time 10 candidates are in the fray for the post of village head. In this panchayat, with a population of one and a half thousand, locals say the banners and posters are giving a feeling of freedom from the horror of the dreaded gangster.
Vikas Dubey became the village head for the first time in 1995. After this, locals say, elections were held in the vicinity of Bikru under the influence and fear of the mob boss and his aides. The opposing candidates were suppressed with money and muscle power.
Elections will take place in 58,189 village panchayats of UP in four phases between April 15 and 29 with the counting of votes scheduled for May 2. The polls will be a key test of the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government’s popularity, and an opportunity for opposition parties to gauge the public mood, particularly as they come against the backdrop of persisting farmers’ protests in the country that have also gripped parts of UP.