Counting for these polls are tough as they are not fought on party symbols but candidates get the backing of parties. BJP had, for the first time, announced candidates for the zilla panchayat polls. According to local media reports, as of Tuesday evening, SP had won in about 750 wards out of the total 3,050 ward seats, followed by BJP which had won in close to 670 seats. Tally of independent/other party candidates remained the highest –– registering wins in more than 1200 wards, which also included wins by SP ally Rashtriya Lok Dal that won in western UP districts. The Bahujan Samaj Party has won in about 320 wards while the Congress struggled to move beyond double digits. AAP claimed victories in 70 wards, majority of which were from the Delhi-bordering western UP districts. These numbers are, however, contestable as parties claim many winning independent candidates to have their backing even if they were not included in their lists of candidates.SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said voters have given their “first preference” to the party. He also attacked the BJP for losing Varanasi. He said that despite deploying ministers, MPs and MLAs all over the state for the polls, the BJP had to face defeat.“BJP’s divisive strategies failed miserably in Bengal and the indication received from the panchayat elections will prove to be a guiding factor in the 2022 assembly elections,” Yadav said The AAP also cornered the BJP for doing poorly in Hindu-dominated districts of Ayodhya, Varanasi, Mathura and Prayagraj where it said voters were able to “see through” the BJP’s religion-based agenda.