Low voter turnout in Hyderabad civic polls; 35.80% polling recorded till 5 pm

The high-stakes Hyderabad civic polls on Tuesday recorded a low voter turnout with 35.80 per cent of voters exercising their franchise till 5 pm. The final poll percentage would be released after compilation and as per the procedures, official sources said.

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polling began at 7 am and concluded at 6 pm.

It went off peacefully without any major incident, news agency PTI quoted a police official as saying.

The Telangana State Election Commission (SEC) ordered repoll in all 69 polling stations of Ward number 26 after it was found that the symbol of CPI(M) was printed in the ballot paper instead of CPI, an official release said.

The CPI complained to the election authorities on the matter.

The repoll is now scheduled to take place on December 3 from 7 am to 6 pm in all the 69 polling stations.

In view of the repoll, publication, broadcasting and telecasting of Exit polls on GHMC elections is banned till 6 pm on December 3, the State Election Commission (SEC) said.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy, TRS working president and state Municipal Administration Minister KT Rama Rao, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi, actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi were among prominent personalities who voted.

As many as 74.44 lakh voters were supposed to exercise their franchise.

There are a total of 1,122 contesting candidates and the main contenders are TRS, opposition BJP and the Congress.

The SEC also made special arrangements in view of the novel coronavirus pandemic. It enabled the Covid-19 patients to either vote at polling stations physically or to use postal ballot.

In case the Covid-10 patients have not used postal ballots, the poll panel allowed them to cast their vote during the last hour — from 5 pm to 6 pm.

However, the Covid-19-positive voters should wear mask, face shield and hand gloves, it said.

According to PTI, Union Minister and BJP leader G Kishan Reddy sharply criticised the ruling TRS and alleged that the TRS government should “bow its head in shame” for the low percentage of voting.

The TRS used the SEC for its “selfish politics” and indulged in misuse of power, he alleged.

Observing that there was time till February to conduct the polls, Reddy said the election could have been conducted by trying to promote people’s awareness, making effective arrangements for polls and giving adequate time to the government personnel.

The state government and the SEC knew the number of polling booths would increase as per Covid-19 guidelines and that the voters would be divided among varios polling booths, but the government decided in a hurry to conduct polls due to fear of losing, he claimed.

Though the state government knew that there are holidays in a row preceding the polling day, it still chose to conduct the election as it sought to reduce the polling percentage, he alleged.

The civic body poll saw a high-octane campaign with several top BJP leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party chief JP Nadda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar, Smriti Irani, party MP and BJYM national president Tejaswi Surya participating in it.

The TRS campaign was led by its working president and state Municipal Administration Minister KT Rama Rao, while party president and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao addressed a public meeting.

During the campaign, state BJP president and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar found himself in a row following his remarks that his party would be ready, if necessary, to conduct a “surgical strike” in the old city to send away Rohingyas and Pakistanis.

AIMIM’s Akbaruddin Owaisi came under attack from his opponents for his reported comments whether the “samadhis” of former Prime Minister PV 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.

(With inputs from PTI)

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