Hyderabad: Polling for 150 divisions of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections remained at just about 40% in spite of the high decibel campaigning from all key parties, especially the BJP, which pressed into service Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
Reportedly, several tens of divisions registered less than 30% polling while a few divisions crossed 50% voter turnout.
Tension prevailed at numerous polling booths as supporters of AIMIM, BJP, Congress and TRS clashed.
The state election commission (SEC) has called for not declaring exit polls as voting in Old Malakpet division was rescheduled for December 3 following printing of a wrong symbol against the name of a CPI candidate in the ballot paper.
The voting process was conducted through the paper ballot system rather than the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Over 51,000 police personnel were deployed across 9,101 polling stations in GHMC.
While ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is in the race in all 150 divisions of GHMC, the Bharatiya Janata Party is in the fray in 149 seats, Congress in 146, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 106, All India Majlis-e-Ittahadul Muslimeen in 51, and Left parties alliance in 29 (CPI -17, CPI(M) -12), independents in 415 and 76 from other parties.
Dileep Konatham, Director, digital media department in the state government, said lakhs of Hyderabadis had moved to villages due to COVID-19 situation, which had resulted in low voting percentage.
During the 2016 GHMC elections, the overall poll percentage was 45.29%.
Tension at Polling Stations
Across several polling booths in divisions, including Uppal, Adikmet, Jeedimetla, Borabanda, Patancheruvu and Kukatpally, TRS and BJP supporters were reportedly involved in scuffles over allegations of cash distribution and voter enticement. In Kukatpally, BJP cadre allegedly attacked Telangana Transport minister Puvvada Anil Kumar’s convoy.
In Jangammet division, mild tension prevailed between AIMIM and BJP as the former’s supporters protested when BJP leader Shehzadi Begum arrived near a polling booth, alleging that she had no vote in the division there. In Tarnaka, Congress and TRS supporters clashed after Congress alleged that the latter party leaders were campaigning while polling was underway.
In Jambagh division,TRS supporters protested alleging that AIMIM supporters were indulging in “rigging” .
In Gudimalkapur division, two groups of BJP cadres clashed among themselves over allegations of supporting TRS.
State election commissioner Parthasarathy said overall polling was conducted peacefully except for a few minor scuffles in some divisions.
Ex-officio votes a deciding factor
Reportedly, 195 members including 150 corporators (to be elected) and 45 eligible ex-officio members from GHMC are eligible for electing mayor and deputy mayor posts. Of the 45 ex-officio members, TRS has 31, AIMIM 10, BJP has 3 and Congress 1 member. Accordingly, TRS will need to win in 67 divisions to bid for the Mayor position, while BJP will need to secure 95 and Congress 98. Whereas, AIMIM, contesting in 51 division,s cannot independently bid for Mayor’s post.
MLAs, MPs from GHMC and MLCs with registered votes in GHMC are eligible ex-officio members.
According to local media reports, several hundreds of voters complained of missing votes at various polling booths. “I’ve cast votes for decades but this time my vote is not in the list. The polling officials did not even answer why my vote was missing,” said a senior citizen from Jubilee Hills division. Another voter from L B Nagar division said his name was missing from the voters’ list but “his late father’s name is present.”
Several political observers have criticised the BJP for introducing a “communal agenda” during their campaign in the civic polls. The saffron party roped in Union ministers -- Prakash Javadekar, Smriti Irani, Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Maharashtra former CM Devendra Fadnavis, Bangalore South MP and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) National President Tejasvi Surya among others -- whose campaign centered around “illegal immigrants”, “Rohingyas and Bangaldesi Muslims”, “Surgical Strike”, “Comparing TRS regime with Nizams” and “Name changing of Hyderabad to Bhagyanagar”.