Hyderabad: The elections for Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) have emerged to be a perfect battleground in Telangana as political parties have intensified their fight for the mayor position in the state’s capital. With only five days left for campaigning, parties are showering sops in their manifestos to woo voters beside targeting opponents through various means, both offline and online.
For the 150 GHMC divisions going to polls on December 1, a total of 2,575 candidates have filed nominations. While Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is in race in all 150 divisions, BJP fielded candidates in 149 seats, Congress in 146, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 106, AIMIM in 51, and Left parties alliance in 29 (CPI -17, CPI(M) -12), and independents in 415 and 76 from other parties.
Notably, none of the parties has declared their candidates for the mayoral position, which is reserved for a female this time.
The ruling TRS, which won the mayor position in 2016 elections winning 99 divisions, is aiming for a comeback amid the opposition parties mounting massive criticism and highlighting failed promises of the incumbent administration. Further, the recent floods in GHMC due to extremely heavy rains in October has become a major political issue in the elections as opposition parties are accusing TRS of failing to address the recurring flood problem in the city and for lapses in providing compensation to the affected families.
On the other side, TRS has blamed the previous governments under Congress and TDP for massive encroachment of lakes and waterbodies over decades which led to the flood problem in the city. The ruling party has already spent over Rs 450 crore for providing Rs 10,000 compensation per family in flood-affected colonies in GHMC.
While opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress are projecting themselves as alternatives to the TRS, other parties like the AIMIM, TDP and Left parties are aiming to win their stronghold divisions.
“The TRS government has constructed many infrastructure projects in the last six years including nine flyovers and has sped up the construction of metro rail, thereby reducing traffic time,” says Naveen Kumar from Lingampalli. But he pointed out that the government did not keep its promise of delivering 1 lakh double bedroom houses in the GHMC. “While the TRS has a clear edge in the elections, the BJP has emerged as its main opponent,” opined Naveen.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao on Monday released the TRS manifesto for the local body polls showering sops such as waiver of water bills for people using water up to 20,000 litres a month from December onward, waiver of power bills to hair salons, expansion of metro rail to the airport and other parts of the city, expansion of MMTS services and allotment of RS 13,000 crore for countering the flood problem in GHMC, among other things.
Congress state Working President and MP Revant Reddy termed the TRS manifesto a “sham” while BJP MP and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kishan Reddy said that the TRS made all old promises and dubbed the manifesto “old wine in new bottle.”
If elected to power, the Congress party promised to take up advanced measures for addressing the flood problem in GHMC. further, the opposition party promised free travel for students, senior citizens, and women in metro and MMTS services, construction of double bedroom houses, free Layout Registration Scheme and Rs 20-lakh insurance scheme to sanitation and municipal workers, among other things.
CPI and CPI(M) joint manifesto
The Left parties are promising free water supply for all, 200 days compulsory employment scheme for poorer sections in urban areas, construction of double bedroom houses for the poor, proper action on illegal encroachment on lakes, protection and rejuvenation of water bodies, increasing facilities in urban health centres, ration cards for all eligible people, minimum wages for unorganised-sector workers, regularisation of contract of municipal workers and fight against corruption in the GHMC, and so on.
CPI(M) state secretary Tammineni Veerabhadram said that the Left parties’ candidates will strive to address real issues in GHMC if elected to power. In divisions where Left parties are not in the race, Veerabhadram appealed to the voters to choose secular parties over the “communal” BJP and AIMIM.
AIMIM and BJP are yet to release their manifestos, but are staying ahead in their campaign.
BJP state president and MP, Bandi Sanjay had earlier promised to provide Rs 25,000 per family as compensation in the flood-affected regions. The saffron party has roped in its national leadership for the elections. On Sunday, Union minister Prakash Javadekar released a booklet accusing TRS of “misrule” in Hyderabad while another Union minister Smriti Irani and former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis are expected to join the campaign.
AIMIM, which has a stronghold across seven assembly constituencies in GHMC, is leading a massive campaign there to retain its traditional voter base.