Hyderabad: True to form, the city remained unmoved by the high-voltage campaign and did not stir out in large numbers for the GHMC elections on Tuesday. Still, the final polling percentage was 45.7, the highest in three GHMC polls. It was 45.27 per cent in 2016 and 42.02 per cent in the 2009 polls.
The vote tally refers to 149 out of the total 150 GHMC divisions: Polling has been cancelled at Old Malakpet, where the symbols of the CPI and the CPI(M) were interchanged, and will be held on Wednesday. Because of election to one ward was pending, the exit polls were not telecast on Tuesday.
Ramachandrapuram topped the list with 67 per cent voting while Yousufguda with 33.03 per cent was at the bottom, according to the State Election Commission (SEC).
At 5 pm, out of 74,12,601 eligible voters in the city, only had 27,22,891 voted, the State Election Commission reported. There appears to have been a last-minute rush, and voting extended in some places till 7.30 which led to a delay in tabulating the final figures.
The reasons were stated to be many: The nature of the campaign itself, the disappointment of the voters from flood-affected areas, many people going away for the long weekend or those working from home preferring not to move out.
On top of all this was suspected to be the Covid-19 impact, voters staying away due to fear of contracting the infection. Many families which had gone to their native places to escape the pandemic did not return in time.
There were also infrastructural issues. All voters did not get the voter slips, and they were directed to download it from apps which apparently proved to be difficult. The creation of new polling stations due to Covid-19 guidelines added to the confusion.
Prof. K. Nageshwar, political analyst, said that it was the failure of political parties which did not give any radical alternative to the people to actively vote for. “The agenda of political parties is contrary to what the public aspirations are. The politics was dominated by the talk of destruction of graveyards, Osama bin Laden and babas while the people need better roads, sanitation, drinking water facilities, drainage system and health. There is an imminent disconnect between what people want and what the parties are offering),” he said.
Prof. Nageshwar said the political parties have “killed” local democracy. "Though the mayor’s post is reserved for women, none of the political parties put women in the forefront or announced a mayoral candidate. The parties have replicated the Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha poll model for the GHMC. The people have already voted twice in the last two years and parties did not give the people a good reason why should they should come out and vote.”
Polling began on an extremely poor note in the morning. At 9 am, the polling percentage was 3.95, and it grew slowly to 11.62 by 11 am, 20.35 by 1 pm, 29.76 by 3 pm and 36.73 per cent by 5 pm according to data issued by the State Election Commission. The voting percentage might increase by another seven per cent, an official said
The elderly, the specially abled and very few middle class voters participated in the voting. Non-distribution of voter slips by the GHMC and the SEC kept many people from voting since they could not download it from the internet. Students stood away for multiple reasons right from lack of development to a busy weekend
V. Prakash, political Analyst and Prof. Jayashankar Research Foundation founder, said the Covid pandemic had forced a lower turnout in the IT corridor since most of the people were working from home and had gone to their hometowns.
Guest workers from Nalgonda, Mahbubnagar, Srikakulam and various other places never came back, fearing the coronavirus. “Political parties and GHMC did encourage the middle class and young voters to vote. There are multiple reasons like not providing voter slips, change of polling booths, providing e-voter slip through mobile applications," he added.
The corporators elected in 2016 seemed to have added to the voter disenchantment by not resolving local grievances. Despite warning by the TRS, the corporators continued in their corrupt activities during the five years.
A GHMC officials said that the prime reason for the low turnout was mapping of polling stations. They said that corporations had mapped polling stations in a different pattern, unlike during the Legislative Assembly polls and Lok Sabha polls. This led to many voters not finding their names in the voter list, and believing that they had been deleted.
Since the polling agents and other staff were deployed at short notice, they did not guide the voters properly.
Through the day, celebrities, NGOs and politicians cutting across party lines continuously encouraged voters to step out and vote.