LUCKNOW: Voting is underway in the fourth and final phase of the Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections on Thursday amid an unprecedented coronavirus surge in the state.
Over 5.27 lakh candidates are in the fray for more than 2.10 lakh seats in 17 districts in this round of the election.
"The polling started in the fourth phase at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm. It is going on peacefully," a State Election Commission official said.
Over 2.98 crore people are eligible to cast their votes in this phase.
Uttar Pradesh is among the 10 worst-hit states in terms coronavirus deaths and cases.
The state had Wednesday recorded its highest single-day rise in Covid-19 death toll with 266 people succumbing to the disease, while 29,824 new cases were reported, pushing the tally to 11,82,848.
The overall Covid-19 death toll in the state now stands at 11,943.
The polling is scheduled in the districts of Ambedkar Nagar, Aligarh, Kushinagar, Kaushambi, Ghazipur, Farrukhabad, Bulandshahr, Basti, Bahraich, Banda, Mau, Mathura, Shahjahanpur, Sambhal, Sitapur, Sonbhadra and Hapur.
According to the poll body, there are 10,679 candidates in the fray for 738 posts of zila panchayat members in the final phase.
A total of 55,408 candidates are contesting for 18,356 posts of kshetra panchayat members.
While 1,14,400 candidates are in the fray for posts of gram panchayat members, 3,47,436 contestants are fighting for 1,77,648 posts in gram panchayat wards, it said.
The candidates will contest on 'free symbols' given by the State Election Commission.
In the first phase of the polls held on April 15, an average polling percentage of 71 was recorded.
The second phase of the polls on April 19 also saw over 71 per cent turnout.
In the third phase of the polls held on April 26, polling percentage of 73.5 was recorded, State Election Commission officials had said.
In view of the coronavirus situation, the SEC had last month announced that not more than five people would be allowed to accompany a candidate during door-to-door campaigning for the panchayat elections.
The Allahabad High Court had asked the Uttar Pradesh government to conclude the panchayat election process by May 25.
The counting of votes will take place on May 2.