Hyderabad: In all likelihood, come Friday, December 4, registered voters of the twin cities might be casting their paper ballots to elect 150 corporators to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), who will then elect the mayor of the city.
Living up its reputation of springing uncanny surprises and catching the Opposition unawares, the ruling Telangana Rasthra Samithi (TRS) is nearly set for December 4 as polling day at a time when Opposition parties, the BJP and the Congress, were expecting the pink party to schedule it late, possibly in February.
The other date considered, as per the excited conversations that have been raging across political parties for the last two days, was December 9. The decision is nearly final and will be sprung as a surprise any day, most likely on November 19.
The motivation of the ruling party leadership, besides giving the least time for the two key Opposition parties to prepare and avoid any exodus of candidates and cadre, is also to avoid a long drawn campaign in the city, which will give time to various leaders to target the government.
As ever, astrology and numerology played their due role, a senior leader of the TRS revealed, adding, “The BJP was calculating that we will delay the election date. This shows how confident the TRS is to repeat its performance of February 2016, when we swept the twin cities.”
The final notification, which has to come from the State Election Commission, will mark the return of the paper ballot papers instead of EVMs. “Why is the TRS opting for a low-tech election for hi-tech Hyderabad,” a BJP leader asked.
In 2016, less than one-and-a-half years of winning the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections of 2014, the TRS won 99 out of the total 150 seats in the GHMC, while the MIM won 44. The BJP has four seats, the Congress two and the TD won a lone seat. The elections will also bring a woman mayor for Hyderabad, who will replace the incumbent Bonthu Rammohan.
The BJP’s Nizamabad member of Parliament D. Arvind said, “The BJP will sweep the elections. We will highlight the failure of the TRS in handling the Covid and cyclones, the domination of the MIM in running all affairs of the city and the state and the massive development and re-imagining of the city. Lakes have been occupied. Land grabbing is rampant. Hyderabadis know that only the BJP can end this mafia raj.”
TRS leaders were confident of retaining 75 seats out of the 99 they hold. “The Congress is hardly a problem. We only expected the BJP to win in some pockets,” a TRS leader confided. “Our surveys show that Brand KTR trumps all factors in Hyderabad.”
The TRS is expected to highlight the Metro Rail, development of roads, flyovers and bridges, women safety, basthi dawakhanas, dignity housing, welfare schemes for poorer sections, investments brought into the city and the rising power of Brand Hyderabad in their bid to win the confidence of the urban voters.
The TRS, which is ahead in the preparations, is likely to nominate most corporators whose performance is satisfactory or above.
The BJP is expected to put together a high-powered team of senior leaders and the party’s efforts are being looked at closely by the Central leadership, which wants to use the elections to declare their intent of winning Telangana as their second state in south India.
“The TRS has money and official machinery on their side. We have the support of the people,” said Arvind.
The battle, if Dubbak was a precursor, will be tense and nail-biting, feel most observers....