Hyderabad/Dec,4: Telangana’s ruling TRS party took an early lead as votes were counted today in the high-stakes Hyderabad municipal elections, which saw an exceptionally high-voltage and divisive contest. Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM is emerging as second, just ahead of the BJP which mounted an aggressive campaign.
According to the leads, the TRS or Telangana Rashtra Samiti of Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao is ahead in 57 seats, the BJP in 28 and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM in 30 seats.
The BJP got off to a good start with postal ballots, which led to self-congratulatory posts from several BJP leaders.
Despite the high-pitched campaign by nearly all parties, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls reported an unimpressive 46.55 per cent turnout on Tuesday with 34.50 lakh people voting from a total of 74.67 lakh voters.
The results are likely to be known only in the evening or in the night since the elections used ballot papers.
The elections witnessed a polarising campaign by most parties that seemed to focus more on Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and whether Hyderabad wants its name changed to Bhagyanagar than sanitation, roads and water supply.
Upbeat with its victory in the recent by-election to the Dubbak assembly constituency, the BJP flew in national leaders like Amit Shah, JP Nadda, Yogi Adityanath, Prakash Javadekar and Smriti Irani hoping to convince Hyderabad that a change was needed, if not now then certainly in the 2023 state polls.
The BJP’s Tejasvi Surya, the Bangalore South MP, was widely criticised for divisive remarks while taking on the TRS and AIMIM.
BJP’s Telangana president and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar controversially said his party would conduct a “surgical strike” in the old city, if necessary, to send away the Rohingya and Pakistanis after it wins the post of mayor in the polls.
The TRS campaign was led by its working president and state Municipal Administration Minister KT Rama Rao while Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao sought to strike an emotional chord with the people, appealing to them to “save the city from divisive forces”, hinting at the BJP which has staked much in the city elections.
The GHMC was formed in April 2007 by merging 12 municipalities and eight gram panchayats with the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH). Four districts fall within GHMC limits, including Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Medchal-Malkajgiri and Sangareddy.a