Congress, BJP facing big challenge in Telangana municipal polls
The polling for 120 municipalities and nine municipal corporations will be held on January 22 and the results would be declared on January 25.Updated: Jan 17, 2020 10:18 IST
The next week’s elections to the urban local bodies in Telangana are going to be the biggest challenge for the two national parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to prove their respective strengths in the state.
The polling for 120 municipalities and nine municipal corporations will be held on January 22 and the results would be declared on January 25. For Karimnagar municipal corporation, however, polling will take place on January 25 and results will be out on January 27.
While the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is sitting pretty – it has already won 77 wards unanimously in various municipalities – the Congress and the BJP are struggling to put up a strong fight. They have not been able to find the right candidates in several places.
The state election commission figures show the Congress could not put up candidates in as many as 200 wards and divisions and the BJP in around 400 places.
“We did not have sufficient time in the selection of candidates as the SEC announced the schedule at very short notice. We shall support like-minded independents wherever we don’t have our candidates,” a senior BJP leader said on the condition of anonymity.
However, both the Congress and BJP are looking forward to putting up an impressive show in the municipal elections as they had done during the Lok Sabha elections held in April last year.
While the Congress could win three parliamentary seats, the BJP sprang a surprise by winning four, defeating stalwarts like Kalvakuntla Kavitha, daughter of chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, in Nizamabad and B Vinod Kumar, a close aide of KCR, in Karimnagar.
However, the jubilation of the two national parties was short-lived, as the TRS bounced back in the gram panchayat, mandal (block) parishad and zilla parishad elections held in June 2019. The ruling party had captured all the 32 zilla parishads and 90% of the block parishads.
“We are going to repeat the performance in the municipal elections. We shall not rest until we capture all the 120 municipalities and 10 municipal corporations. That is going to be our goal,” TRS working president and KCR’s son KT Rama Rao had said during a preparatory meeting of the party last week.
The Congress, which released its vision document for the municipal elections on Thursday, is focussing on the alleged neglect of civic infrastructure in several municipalities during the TRS regime and large-scale corruption in the administration.
“We shall fight on the issue of failure of TRS government in fulfilling the electoral promises and lack of development in urban local bodies,” former minister and PCC vice-president Mohd Ali Shabbir said.
The party, however, is apprehensive that their candidates might not match the money power and arm-twisting tactics of the TRS.
“Already, the TRS lawmakers are luring our potential candidates with money power to see that there is no competition. They are spending money in crores,” a Congress spokesperson, who refused to be named, said.
On the other hand, the BJP is focussing on the districts – Adilabad and Karimnagar, Nizamabad – it had won the Lok Sabha elections where there is a possibility of polarisation of Hindu votes.
It is trying to capitalise on the incidents like the recent communal violence in Bhainsa town in Nirmal district, part of Adilabad LS constituency to win over the Hindu voters.
“We shall go to every voter and explain to them the need to elect the BJP members in the municipalities so that the people would get the benefits of the central schemes,” BJP spokesperson K Krishnasaga Rao said.
Political analyst S Ramakrishna said the Congress should win at least 25% of the total municipalities and corporations if it has any ambition of coming to power in the 2023 assembly elections in Telangana.
“But the BJP cannot expect to win more than 10%, because it doesn’t have the cadre base in the state,” Ramakrishna said.