Hyderabad: Elections to the Andhra Pradesh urban local bodies for 12 municipal corporations and 75 municipalities, scheduled on March 10, has seen a high-decibel campaign by key political parties. The campaign almost replicated that of the general elections with top leaders of all parties soliciting votes.
The polling will be held on Wednesday from 7 a.m to 5 p.m and the counting of votes is scheduled on March 14. However, the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) has declared that its candidates have ‘unanimously won’ 570 wards, while the Opposition parties alleged their candidates ‘forced’ to withdraw. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) won in six wards and the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) won one ward unanimously.
Meanwhile, the Andhra High Court on Monday stayed the elections for Eluru Municipality in East Godavari district over discrepancies in the voters’ list.
Meanwhile, the Opposition TDP, BJP and Left parties’ leaders alleged that the ruling party had ‘forced’ the Opposition candidates to withdraw from the contest ‘undemocratically’.
“If the YSRCP is confident that it had delivered on its promises, then why are its candidates distributing money in exchange of votes,” questioned CH Babu Rao, CPI(M) state secretariat member.
Among alliance partners, the TDP has allied with CPI in the local bodies polls, the BJP is contesting the elections in alliance with Jana Sena party. CPI (M) which is contesting the polls separately has fielded candidates in 80 wards and has fielded about 70 candidates in the municipalities.
While YSRCP has roped in all its ministers , MPs and MLAs for campaigning, TDP head and former Chief Minister N Chandra Babu Naidu himself, along with the key leaders of the party participated in the campaigning. Left parties concentrated their campaign in their strongholds.
Observers say the BJP- Jana Sena alliance has fallen behind in the electoral race owing to the people’s angst against the Central government’s unfulfilled promises and its plans to go ahead with the privatisation of Vizag Steel Plant despite statewide protests.
In the previous municipal polls held in March 2014 in undivided Andhra Pradesh, of the 92 municipalities in Andhra region, TDP won 65 municipalities and YSRCP won 19. Of the seven municipal corporations, TDP bagged 5 and YSRCP 2.
In the recently concluded panchayat polls held in four phases, YSRCP backed candidates won about 80% of the seats or won in 10,382 seats, followed by the TDP-supported candidates who won in 2,063, BJP-Jana Sena in 100 seats and the Left and independent candidates won in the remaining 375 seats. Even in the panchayat polls, the ruling party was accused of indulging in forceful unanimous elections of its candidates.
The recent amendments to the municipal laws brought in by the state government is also the main issue in the polls, pointed out Babu. “After securing a massive majority in the general elections, the YSRCP has openly submitted itself to the BJP and has been implementing policies as imposed by the centre. But, people are starting to realise the adverse impact of such policies for instance the steep hike in the property tax,” he said.