Voting has begun for the election to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) which witnessed a high-decibel campaign resembling an assembly or parliamentary election with top leaders from different parties participating in the electioneering.
The civic body election is a high-stakes battle for the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the BJP, which is trying to make inroads, and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM. This has been the most fiercely and bitterly fought municipal elections ever in Hyderabad. As many as 74,44,260 voters would exercise their franchise using ballot papers to elect their representatives in the 150-ward GHMC, according to official data. Polling began at 7am and will come to an end at 6pm. A total of 1,122 candidates are contesting the civic body election across 150 divisions, spread over four districts. Electoral issues have gone beyond roads, sanitation, water supply, street lights, drainage and basic civic infrastructure, to whether Hyderabad wants its name changed to Bhagyanagar, and also if Telangana needs a new ruling party.
In the last municipal elections in February 2016, the ruling TRS had won 99 seats, Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM won 44, the BJP won 4, the Congress won 2 and the Telugu Desam Party managed to get 1. Over the last decade, the polling percentage has been traditionally lower in the civic body elections, as compared to the state election, with hardly 45 per cent voter turnout. The voting percentage in 2009 was 43 per cent; it was 46 per cent in 2016. Heavy security has been deployed at 9,101 polling stations, with the state police indicating that they have information of some elements trying to disturb peace and incite trouble. Over 50,000 police personnel are on the ground amid multiple rumours of cash and liquor distribution. The election campaigning ended on Sunday at 6 pm.