The elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation has evoked nationwide interest has thrown a surprise with Bharatiya Janata Party winning 48 seats (up from 4 seats in 2016) and reducing TRS to 55 seats (down from 99 seats in 2016).
The results which came after an aggressive campaign by Bharatiya Janata Party which threw in a dozen senior national leaders, ranging from Tejaswi Surya to Prakash Javdekar, Sambit Patra, Smriti Irani, J P Nadda and the final day road show by Amit Shah. The question that many political observers had was why did BJP do this? The answer lies in BJP’s political road map to make a deep foray into South India, which is dominated by family held regional parties. The only exception is Kerala where coalitions of UDF and LDF have a game of musical chairs.
The counting which begin from 8 am on 4th December saw a very slow counting as, ballot papers were used for this election. The postal ballots which totaled to just 1650, saw BJP taking a huge lead, but that settled down with the three rounds of counting.
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation has 150 wards with over 72 lakh voters. Both the leading parties have fielded candidates in all the wards while MIM has restricted itself to just about 50 off seats in the old city and come non serious candidates in the new city. In the 2016 GHMC Polls TRS had won 99 seats while MIM got 44, BJP 3, Congress 2, TDP 1. This time TRs ended with 54, BJP 48, MIM 43 and Congress with just 2 seats.
The main issues which TRS was up against in the 2020 GHMC polls were thr floods in October 2020 had caused extensive damage in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The reason for the floods was heaviest rain in 100 years, but it was also caused by encroachments of nalas (small canals) and lake beds. The seats which BJP won in GHMC areas came from areas like LB Nagar which saw extensive flooding and people losing their household furniture, vehicles and electronic items.
The Telangana Govt paid Rs 10,000 cash to some people, and that caused a heartburn among others who did not get it. A total of Rs 450 crore was distributed by MLAs, GHMC Corporators and TRS party leaders. The Telangana Govt was forced to switch over to a Direct Benefit Transfer but even that was stopped due to the GHMC election Code of Conduct.
The Land Regularization Scheme was another issue that TRS was facing a lot of heat.
The allegations of corruption against the first family of TRS – CM K Chandrasekhar Rao, son KT Rama Rao, daughter Kavita and nephew Harish Rao also have angered many people.
On the other hand, Municipal Administration and IT Minister KT Rama Rao, claims that TRS Govt has over the last six years spend around 67,000 crores to develop the infrastructure in Hyderabad City – but as we saw in the results today, that did not impress the citizens of the Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
The TRS part particular KCR and KTR claimed that BJP was trying to disturb the peaceful atmosphere in the city by invoking communal passions. That backfired as BJP used the religious divide to their advantage by bringing in the issue of Rohingyas in Hyderabad who have illegally obtained Aadhaar and other documents. The MIM had challenged UP VM Yogi Adityanath and Home Minister Amit Shah to campaign in the old city of Hyderabad, and they did in style.
The TRS will still try and get the Mayor’s post which is reserved for a Women this time, with help from MIM and ex officio members (MLAs and MPs of GHMC area). But, that will lend credence to BJP’s allegation that TRS and MIM had a secret understanding for GHMC elections. MIM had contested just 50 of the 150 seats, mostly in the old city. This was obviously done to help TRS get the Muslim votes.
On the other hand, BJP with 48 Councillors, will go aggressive trying to counter TRS – MIM combine in GHMC, and make life difficult for the ruling combine both in GHMC and across Telangana. The next set of Elections are Graduate Constituency Elections for Telangana Council and the Secunderabad Cantonment Board.
BJP’s spectacular show will spur the party units in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where election are due in 2021 to take a similar aggressive stance. That will require leaders in these two states to bury their differences and work as a team – just like BJP did in Hyderabad.