Elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) threw up a hung house as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made big inroads to deny the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) a clear majority.
TRS emerged as the single largest party with 55 seats in the 150-member municipal body while the BJP won 48 seats, signaling its emergence as a dominant political force in the state.
Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which retained 44 seats, has emerged as the kingmaker. TRS and MIM are likely to enter into a power-sharing arrangement to rule the municipal body.
The Congress could win just two seats. Owning the responsibility for the party’s disastrous performance, state Congress chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy announced his resignation from the post on Friday evening.
The results came as a big shock to the TRS, which had won a landslide majority in 2016 with 99 seats. With just four seats in the previous elections, the BJP improved its performance manifold.
The result in one division (Neredmet) was withheld as the number of ballots with ‘distinguished mark’ other than ‘swastik’ was more than the majority of TRS. The ruling party was leading by 505 seats but ballots with ‘distinguished mark’ other than ‘swastik’ were 544. The result will be subject to a High Court order in the matter.
The counting day saw several twists and turns in the fortunes of the parties. Though TRS appeared set to retain power with a lead in 70 divisions at around 4 p.m., the scene changed subsequently with the BJP racing ahead in divisions where it was locked in a neck-and-neck battle with the TRS.
The newly-elected corporators and 52 ex-officio members will elect the Mayor. Since TRS has majority of ex-officio members, it required 65 corporators to have its Mayor. The party may now have to negotiate a power-sharing agreement with the MIM if the latter doesn’t extend unconditional support. In 2009, when GHMC polls had thrown a similar verdict, the Congress had shared power with the MIM, leaving the post of Mayor to MIM for two years.
The post of Mayor this time has been reserved for women. Terming the results, not to the expectations of the party, TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao said the party fell short by 20-25 seats. When asked about the possibility of an alliance with the MIM, he said the party would discuss all the issues and then make a decision.
Performing beyond its own expectations and making big inroads in the state capital, the BJP replaced MIM as the second-largest party. The saffron party fought the polls with all the might with top Central leaders and Union ministers campaigning for its candidates.
The party’s state chief Bandi Sanjay said that people have taught a lesson to Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao for his arrogance and corruption. He said despite all the unfair means adopted by the TRS, people gave their mandate to the BJP and they see it as the sole alternative to TRS.
Counting of votes cast in all 150 divisions began at 8 a.m. at 30 places in the city with Telangana State Election Commission deploying over 8,000 personnel.
The police made elaborate security arrangements in the city in view of the counting. Prohibitory orders and traffic restrictions were imposed around the counting centers.
The police in Hyderabad, Cyberabad, and Rachakonda has imposed a ban on victory rallies for the next 48 hours.
Out of the total 74.67 lakh voters, 46.55 percent had cast their votes in 149 divisions on Tuesday. There were 1,925 postal ballots. Polling in one division was stopped due to discrepancy in the ballot paper and a re-poll was held on Thursday.
A total of 1,122 candidates tested their political fortunes. The bitterly contested elections saw a high-decibel campaign with the participation of several central ministers and top national leaders of the BJP.
Union Ministers Amit Shah, Prakash Javadekar and Smriti Irani, BJP President J.P. Nadda, and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath campaigned for the BJP.
The campaign also saw no holds barred attack by political opponents. The promise by BJP leaders to change the name of Hyderabad to Bhagyanagar if the party was voted to power also sparked a row.