Counting for high-stakes Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation poll begins, big test for TRS, BJP

The counting of votes in the high-stakes Hyderabad civic poll has begun. Though the run-up to the poll saw a high pitched campaign by the political parties, the turnout of the voters on December 1 was an unimpressive 46.55 per cent (34.50 lakh) out of the total 74.67 lakh voters.

As many as 74.44 lakh voters were to have exercised their franchise while 1,122 candidates were in the fray in a battle between the ruling TRS, the opposition BJP and Congress. LIVE UPDATES HERE

The Telangana State Election Commission (SEC) earlier ordered a repoll in all 69 polling stations of ward number 26 after it was found that the CPI(M) symbol was printed in the ballot paper instead of CPI.

Read: Hyderabad election was the trailer, the real battle is for Telangana

Elaborate arrangements have been made for the counting process on Friday. Counting centres have been set up at 30 places and the total number of personnel engaged in counting is 8,152, official sources said on Thursday.

The entire counting process would be recorded with CCTV cameras installed at every counting table, officials have said. Ballot papers were used for the poll and consequently, the results are likely to be known only in the evening or in the night. The Telangana State Election Commission had decided to conduct the election with ballot papers after obtaining the views of major political parties, health department in view of Covid-19.

The Battle for Hyderabad

The lead up to the GHMC polling witnessed a vociferous campaign by the parties. The BJP conducted a spirited campaign to win the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation poll to boost its chances in the 2023 Assembly election. Top leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party president J P Nadda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, joined the campaign. The BJP highlighted the TRS’s “alliance” with the AIMIM and sought votes to provide clean and transparent administration in the city.

The TRS, however, denied any alliance with the AIMIM. The party deployed several state ministers and legislators for canvassing in the city. The TDP, once a major force in the state, sought to revive its fortunes highlighting the development witnessed in the city, including in the IT sector, during N Chandrababu Naidu’s regime as Chief Minister in undivided Andhra Pradesh.

The TRS and BJP leaders were engaged in a bitter war of words. BJP’s Telangana president and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar found himself in a row following his comments that his party would conduct a “surgical strike” in the old city here, if necessary, to send away Rohingyas and Pakistanis after it wins the post of Mayor in the polls.

AIMIM’s Akbaruddin Owaisi in a poll campaign earned the wrath of his opponents by asking whether the ”samadhis” of former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao and TDP founder N T Rama Rao, built on the Hussain Sagar lake bank, would be removed as he questioned the eviction drive against “poor people” residing near water bodies. The Hyderabad civic poll also assumed political significance as 24 Assembly segments fall under the GHMC limits.

Also Read | GHMC poll results: Verdict on BJP’s aggressive campaign awaited

Also Read | Hyderabad civic polls: Why BJP made local election as its big launchpad in Telangana

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