Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Polling officers collect election materials ahead of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections in Hyderabad in this file photo.(PTI Photo)
Votes in the bitterly-fought elections to the 150-ward Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) will be counted on Friday. Poll officials have made elaborate arrangements for the process and set up centres at 30 places where more than 8,000 personnel will be engaged in the counting of votes. The counting process would be recorded on CCTV cameras installed at every counting table, officials have said. Ballot papers were used for the poll and consequently, the results are likely to be known only in the evening or in the night.
The polls in the city assume political significance as 24 assembly segments fall under the GHMC limits. In the last GHMC elections in 2016, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the state had swept the election as it won 99 of the 150 wards. The municipal elections are also crucial for the BJP, party functionaries aware of the details said, as it has set itself the target of expanding its footprint in the state. “The party hopes to establish itself as a serious contender,” said a senior party functionary. Its recent win in the Dubbak assembly constituency by-poll has given the BJP a toehold to carve out space for itself in the TRS bastion.
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The Telangana State Election Commission had decided to conduct the GHMC elections with ballot papers after obtaining the views of major political parties, the health department in view of the coronavirus pandemic and taking into consideration various relevant issues.
The turnout of the voters on December 1 was an unimpressive 46.55 per cent or 34.50 lakh out of the total 74.67 lakh voters even though the run-up to the poll saw a high-pitched campaign by parties.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) conducted a spirited campaign to win the GHMC polls to boost its chances in the assembly elections to be held in 2023. The party has drafted its general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, who was its in-charge for the Bihar assembly elections, to supervise the poll preparations in Hyderabad.
Union home minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Union ministers Prakash Javadekar, Smriti Irani and minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy, who is Lok Sabha member from Secunderabad, party MP and BJYM national president Tejasvi Surya were the leaders who participated in the campaign.
The BJP highlighted the TRS’ “alliance” with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and sought votes to provide clean and transparent administration in the city. The TRS, however, denied any alliance with the AIMIM.
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The TRS’ campaign was led by its working president and state municipal administration minister KT Rama Rao, while party president and chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao addressed a public meeting. The state’s ruling party also deployed several state ministers and legislators for canvassing in the city.
The Congress’ poll battle was led by its state president N Uttam Kumar Reddy and working president A Revanth Reddy (both MPs) and other senior leaders.The Telegu Desam Party (TDP), once a major force in the state, sought to revive its fortunes highlighting the development witnessed in the city, including in the IT sector, during N Chandrababu Naidu’s regime as the chief minister in undivided Andhra Pradesh.
War of words
The BJP’s Telangana president and lawmaker Bandi Sanjay Kumar found himself in a row following his comments that his party would conduct a “surgical strike” in the old city here, if necessary, to send away Rohingyas and Pakistanis after it wins the post of Mayor in the polls.
The AIMIM’s leader Akbaruddin Owaisi in a poll campaign earned the wrath of his opponents by asking whether the ‘samadhis’ of former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao and TDP founder NT Rama Rao, built on the Hussain Sagar lake bank, would be removed as he questioned the eviction drive against “poor people” residing near water bodies.
Polling to the GHMC passed off peacefully, barring minor incidents of clashes among the activists of the TRS, BJP and AIMIM. However, the state election commission ordered repolling in all 69 polling stations of Ward Number 26 after it was found that the symbol of the CPI(M) was printed in the ballot paper instead of the CPI’s.
(With agency inputs)