The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday swept the elections to the posts of district panchayat chief in Uttar Pradesh by winning 67 of 75 seats, NDTV reported. The Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party won only five seats and he alleged that the ruling party used force to stop people from voting.

The Rashtriya Lok Dal, Jansatta Dal and an Independent candidate won one seat each in the polls held on Saturday. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party had boycotted the elections, claiming it will not be held in a transparent manner.

These were indirect elections where new members of the district councils voted to elect the panchayat chiefs.

“The glorious victory of BJP in Uttar Pradesh Zila Panchayat elections is the blessing given by the people for development, public service and rule of law in the state,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted in Hindi. “The credit for this goes to the policies of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and hard work of the workers. Congratulations to the Uttar Pradesh government and BJP organisation for this.”

Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP President JP Nadda also congratulated Adityanath for the victory.

Yadav, however, alleged that the saffron party made a mockery of all democratic norms during the elections, according to PTI. “To convert its defeat into victory, the BJP got the voters kidnapped, used force with the help of police and administration to stop them from voting,” the Samajwadi Party chief claimed.

Despite giving a memorandum to the state Election Commission, demanding free and fair polls, no action was taken, he added.

The Samajwadi Party chief also said that it was strange that while most results in the elections for the Zila Panchayat members were in favour of his party, the BJP secured victory in the polls for the district panchayat chief.

“They have cheated to a majority,” he claimed. “Administrative officials were also involved in this.”

The local body elections were being keenly watched as a run-up to next year’s Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. In 2016, Yadav’s party had won 60 of the 75 seats in the Zila Panchayat chairperson elections, according to NDTV. Yadav was the chief minister then. A year later, he was replaced by Adityanath.

After the results, Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh expressed confidence that the party will come back to power in 2022 too.