Lucknow | Jagran Politics Desk: In what could be termed as a litmus test for Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of next year's assembly elections in the state, the election commission will declare the results for the Uttar Pradesh Panchayat polls on Sunday.

The counting of votes, as per the election commission guidelines, will be held at all 829 centres and strict protocols will be followed to check the spread of the infectious COVID-19.

The Supreme Court on Saturday directed the poll body to ensure that candidates and their agents are only able to enter the counting centres if they have received both vaccine doses or have a negative RT-PCR test report.

It has also banned victory processions in the state amid the massive surge of COVID-19 and asked the state government to impose a strict curfew in the entire Uttar Pradesh till Tuesday morning.

"It is stated across the bar that additionally strict curfew would be imposed in areas as may be notified by the authorities concerned, in particular, in and around the counting centres and will be continued until the counting process of the counting centre concerned is completed in all respects, including the declaration of results," the apex court said.

The panchayat elections were held in Uttar Pradesh this year in four phases -- April 15, April 19, April 26 and April 29. Lakhs of candidates were in the fray for over 7.32 lakh seats in the gram panchayat wards, 58,176 in the gram panchayats, 75,852 in the kshetra panchayats and 3,050 in the Zila panchayats in the statewide elections held over four phases.

This year's panchayat polls are important for all parties, including the ruling BJP, which has termed it as a "curtain-raiser" for the 2022 assembly elections. The BJP, which is banking on the Modi wave, is looking to stamp its authority in Uttar Pradesh with a massive win in these polls.

However, the saffron party will face a stiff challenge from Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and the newcomer -- Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The BJP will also be challenged by the recent farmers' protest as Rakesh Tikait kept urging people across western UP to vote against the ruling party. Meanwhile, the panchayat elections will also give Mayawati and her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to make a comeback in the state.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma