TRS widens lead, BJP, AIMIM in close race for 2nd spot in Hyderabad poll trends
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi has widened its lead in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections in early trends but the BJP looks to be consolidating its foothold in the region as the counting of votes progresses on Friday.
Going by the early trends in the first round of counting of votes, the TRS has established clear leads in 57 divisions, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was locked in a close fight with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen with leads in 25 divisions as against the leads in 30 divisions earned by AIMIM candidates. The Congress is in the last position with leads in two divisions.
Though it was not officially declared yet, AIMIM candidate Majid Hussain from Mehdipatnam division recorded the first victory in the elections and TRS candidate Raj Kumar Patel won from the Yousufguda division.
The counting process began at 8 am with the counting of 1,926 postal ballots in various divisions. In the postal ballots, the BJP established leads in 84 divisions, followed by the TRS in 29 divisions, AIMIM in 17 and the Congress in two divisions.
Meanwhile, Telangana state high court suspended a late-night circular issued by the state election commission allowing any mark by pen other than Swastika stamp on the ballot paper, as a valid vote during counting.
The SEC circular issued late on Thursday said even an ink mark on the ballot paper, instead of a Swastika mark, can be considered a valid vote, treating it as a mistake by the polling official and not that by a voter. The SEC clarified that the marking of vote even by a pen displayed the intention to vote for a particular candidate.
The Congress and the BJP asked how the circular could be issued without consulting all the parties. The BJP moved a house motion in the state high court early in the morning.
After hearing both sides, the high court gave a ruling suspending the circular and declaring that only those ballots with the Swastika mark could be considered valid for counting.
The high court said all such votes with a different mark than Swastika mark should be counted separately. If their number is more than the victory margin secured by a candidate, then the result would be withheld and if the victory margin of a candidate is more than the non-Swastika marked votes, then the result could be declared.
It directed the SEC to immediately flash the judgement to all the counting centres and asked it to file a counter with all details by Monday.
The commission said it would file a review petition in the high court claiming courts cannot interfere in the election commission’s decisions.
Only 46.55% exercised their franchise using ballot paper method in the GHMC elections, instead of electronic voting machines, for the first time after 18 years. The total number of eligible voters is 74.67 lakh.
“It means nearly 34.50 lakh votes have to be counted physically. This is the reason for the delay in counting of votes. First, the ballot papers had to be made into bundles of 100 votes each and then counting had to be done,” an SEC official familiar with the development said.
As many as 30 counting centres have been set up across the GHMC limits and 14 tables have been arranged in each counting hall. In all, 8,152 personnel are engaged in the counting exercise and 31 observers are monitoring the proceedings.