TRS largest in Hyderabad polls as BJP improves tally
The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) emerged as the single largest party in the Hyderabad civic polls on Friday, but was jolted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that surged into second place, a significant achievement for a party that was a bit player in the state four years ago.
The TRS won 55 of the 150 seats in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), a deficit of 44 seats from its 2016 showing of 99.
The BJP won 48 seats on the back of a high-octane campaign, a huge improvement over its 2016 performance of four seats when it fought in alliance with the Telugu Desam Party.
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) largely held on to its home turf in the Muslim-majority old city of Hyderabad and won 44 seats, the same as its 2016 tally. It, however, had the best strike rate of all parties, having contested just 51 seats. The result of one seat was not declared owing to a legal battle over the ballot paper used.
No single party reached the halfway mark of 76 but the TRS and the AIMIM – which fought the 2019 general elections in alliance and have friendly relations – are expected to join hands.
The results pit the BJP as the primary challenger to the TRS -- which has ruled the state since it was founded in 2014 - in the next assembly elections in three years.
The Congress won two seats, the same number it did in 2016. Taking moral responsibility for the poor show of the party, Telangana PCC president N Uttam Kumar Reddy announced his resignation.
The focus has now shifted to the mayor’s post, which was held by the TRS. In all, GHMC has 150 elected members and 52 other members, such as MPs, MLAs and MLCs of the area. Of the 52, the TRS has 38 members. This means that the mayor’s post is decided by an electoral college of 202 members, of which the TRS controls only 93 -- nine short of the halfway mark of 102.
Senior TRS leader and state panchayat raj minister Errabelli Dayakar Rao said the people reposed their faith in the TRS despite “large-scale conspiracy” by the BJP that sought to exploit religious sentiments. “They have voted for the development and rejected divisive forces,” he said.
The BJP hailed the results. “Gratitude to the people of Telangana for reposing faith in PM Narendra Modi led BJP’s politics of development,” said Union home minister Amit Shah.
BJP chief JP Nadda called the results historic. “This result reflects people’s unequivocal support to Hon PM Shri @narendramodi ji’s development & governance model,” he tweeted.
In the morning, some television channels had projected a two-thirds majority for the BJP but it later turned out that the leads were due to postal ballots only.
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi expressed confidence that the people of Telangana would not allow the BJP to expand its footprint.
Experts credited the BJP’s performance to its spirited campaign that roped in top leaders, including Shah, Nadda, and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, polarising the Hindu vote bank in Hyderabad by promising to end “Nizam culture” and highlighting the failures of the TRS government in providing relief during heavy rainfall that lashed the city last month.
Political analyst and Osmania University professor K Nageshwar said the main reason for the failure of the TRS in the GHMC was its open friendship with the AIMIM. “It has naturally given a weapon to the BJP and an opportunity to emerge as a champion of Hindus,” he said.
He said that chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao focussed on decimating the Congress but failed to assess the threat from the BJP. “The TRS supported the Narendra Modi government in Parliament on several issues. So, how could the people believe KCR?” he asked.
Other BJP leaders said the results had given the party a toehold in the TRS bastion. “There was a vacuum in opposition space. The Congress had stopped functioning as an opposition. There is also widespread anger against the TRS government for its misrule and poor response to the challenges of unemployment, Covid and more recently floods,” said P Muralidhar Rao, a former national general secretary who now in charge of Madhya Pradesh.
Party national general secretary Bhupender Yadav, who oversaw the campaign, said the results showed the support that the party has in the state.
“People have faith in the BJP. The party has performed well despite the malpractices that the TRS government indulged in.” Yadav added that the vote was a mandate against the chief minister.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won four seats and about 20% vote share. The recent win in the Dubbaka assembly bypoll -- which was earlier held by the TRS -- came as a shot in the arm for the party.