Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao
The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) retained control over the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) by winning 55 of the 150 seats in the high-stake civic body election, the counting of which was held on December 4.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had launched a high-voltage campaign ahead of the polls, emerged as the biggest winner by winning 48 seats, up from just four seats that the party won in the last GHMC polls, according to news agency ANI.
Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) finished third winning 44 of the 51 seats it contested. The Congress won two seats while the result of one ward was awaited.
“I thank people of Hyderabad who chose the TRS as the single-largest party to represent them in Council. Result is certainly not what we expected, we're short of 20-25 seats. We lost about 10-12 divisions with extremely narrow margin,” KT Rama Rao, Telangana minister was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
With the improved performance, the BJP has clearly made inroads in Telangana and provided an alternative to the TRS which has enjoyed monopoly in the state over the years since the state came into being in 2014.
“Gratitude to the people of Telangana for reposing faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP’s politics of development,” Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted after what he called the BJP’s "astounding" performance in the polls.
The election to the 150 seats of the GHMC, the fifth largest metropolitan city area in the country held on December 1 after a high-decibel campaign, saw a voter turnout of 46.67 per cent.
In all, 1,122 candidates were in the fray. The ruling TRS contested 150 seats, the BJP on 149, the Congress on 146, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) on 106 and the AIMIM on 51 seats.
In the last GHMC polls, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s TRS had won 99 seats, the AIMIM had won 44, the BJP four, the Congress two and TDP one seat.
After the Congress' poor performance, N Uttam Kumar Reddy resigned from the post of president of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee.
The hyper-local elections had assumed unprecedented hype, so much so that the BJP deployed its top leadership, including its party president JP Nadda, a battery of central ministers, including Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to woo voters ahead of the polls.
The BJP’s high-pitched Hyderabad campaign seemed to be well thought out as part of the larger plan of making inroads in Telangana ahead of 2023 assembly elections. With the decline of the Congress and the TDP in the state, chief minister KCR’s TRS has virtually faced no opposition. The polls in the city were important as 24 assembly segments fall under the GHMC limits.
The BJP won four of the 17 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, and, more recently, Dubbak assembly seat in the by-polls, taking its tally to two in the assembly.
For KCR, the GHMC polls were a prestige battle. In the 2019 general elections his TRS, which swept the 2018 Telangana Assembly elections, could win only nine of the 17 Lok Sabha seats.
The TRS has lost significant ground after his win in 2018 state assembly elections. Its vote share declined from 47.4 percent in2018 to 41.7 percent in the 2019 general elections.
One of the reasons for the TRS’s poor performance, analysts said, is the governance shortfall in the city. More recently, the TRS faced flak over its poor handling of October floods in the GHMC areas. The party was also criticised for the poor management of relief distribution to the flood-affected families. The model code of conduct came into effect on November 17, leaving many people without relief.
Owaisi’s AIMIM managed to hold its fort in old Hyderabad by winning 43 seats.
With issues like Biryani, Pakistan, Rohingyas, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and surgical strikes having dominated the campaign, it was hard to believe that it was just a civic body election being fought in one of the fastest-growing metropolises of the country.