Hyderabad municipal election tomorrow, voting through ballot papers
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, the fifth largest metropolitan city area in the country, will go to polls on Tuesday, after witnessing a high-decibel campaign with leaders across party lines going all out to woo voters.
In all, 1,122 candidates are in fray for 150 seats, each representing one division in the GHMC. Among major political parties, Telangana Rashtra Samithi is contesting in all the 150 divisions, Bharatiya Janata Party in 149, Congress in 146, Telugu Desam Party in 106 and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen in 51 divisions.
The GHMC, with a population of more than one crore, has 74,67,256 voters, including 38,89,637 male and 35,76,941 female voters, besides 687 transgenders. There will be 9,101 polling stations for a total number of 150 divisions.
The polling will begin at 7 am and close at 6 pm. Unlike in the previous elections, the polling will be held using traditional ballot papers, instead of electronic voting machines. “The counting of votes will take place on December 4 and the results will be out the same evening,” state election commissioner C Parthasarathy told reporters.
In view of Covid-19 situation, the authorities have sanitised every polling station and have made it mandatory for all the voters to use a sanitiser before entering the polling station. The authorities have also made arrangements to maintain social distancing in the queue.
“During the process of identification of a voter, they are required to lower the facemask for identification, when required. At any given time, only one voter shall be allowed to stand in front of each polling official maintaining social distance,” Parthasarathy said.
The GHMC elections have been into a prestige battle by all the major political parties – TRS, BJP, AIMIM and the Congress.
In the last elections in December 2015, the first after the formation of Telangana, the TRS had won 99 out of 150 seats and its alliance partner AIMIM had bagged 44 seats.
The Congress which was reigning supreme in the GHMC till then, suffered a humiliation by winning just two seats, while the BJP-Telugu Desam Party combine had won just five seats.
This time, the TRS faces a tough challenge from the BJP, which has been brimming with confidence after its recent victory over the TRS in the by-elections to Dubbak assembly seat.
The TRS, which made a strong pitch for development, has made attractive promises to the people, including free water supply to households consuming less than 20,000 liters per month, free power supply to salons, laundries and dhobi ghats, waiver for Motor Vehicle tax for vehicles purchased during Coronavirus pandemic etc.
The TRS roped in several ministers to campaign in every nook and corner of the city by conducting roadshows and going door-to-door to appeal to the voters. While TRS working president K T Rama Rao led the party campaign from the front, his father and chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao addressed a huge rally at the L B Stadium on Saturday, the penultimate day of the campaign.
The BJP, which is aware that an emphatic win in the GHMC election would turn around its fortunes in Telangana and help emerge as a potential force when the next state election rolls by. The party leaders, led by state president Bandi Sanjay, used all their firepower to attack the TRS and also appeared to polarise Hindu votes with their speeches.
The BJP leaders targeted the alleged nexus between the TRS and the MIM and sought to exploit issues like that of Rohingyas and Nizam rule, besides using provocative statements like conduct of surgical strikes on the Muslim-dominated old city of Hyderabad.
The BJP, for the first time, roped in all its top leaders including Union home minister Amit Shah, national president J P Nadda, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Union ministers Prakash Javdekar and Smriti Irani and former Maharasthra CM Devendra Fadnavis to campaign in the local polls.