A municipal election so sui generis it grabbed the attention of an entire nation has finally ended with a verdict that will be a watermark moment in the history of Telangana politics. The ruling TRS managed to narrowly edge our all challenges to slip past the ribbon with a wafer-thin margin, to manage to hold on to the GHMC mayoral seat. The AIMIM, player number three and factor X in the polls, held its fortress unscathed.
But the real political winner of the battle and narrative is the BJP, which has succeeded in managing to seed its narrative of being a challenger for power for Telangana, reducing the Congress to an insignificant naught in Telangana politics. The BJP juggernaut has only strengthened from Nizamabad in Lok Sabha elections, 2019, to Dubbaka a few weeks ago to Greater Hyderabad on Friday; promising to keep aggressively surging ahead, with Nagarjunasagar as the next episode.
By holding the TRS far from increasing its tally of 99 to a century or more, to even denying the pink party a clear majority of 76 in popular vote for 150 divisions to bring it below 60 divisions, the BJP has scripted an exceptional win. What is more significant is that it has managed to surpass the AIMIM as the second largest party.
The TRS now has an additional immediate problem of having to formally enter into some alliance or agreement with the MIM to resolve the impasse of the numbers of a hung municipal council. This will further give the BJP an additional benefit of having portrayed the TRS as a clandestine partner of the MIM.
What surprised nobody is that the Congress party has been reduced to a big zero in its ability to impact the politics of the state. The party was the principal Opposition less than two years ago when the results of the December 2018 Assembly elections came out. The TRS has used many a Machiavellian tactic to weaken the Congress, thus losing its advantage of two incompatible national parties splitting the anti-incumbency vote. Like a snake biting its own tail, the TRS is now paying a price for its strategic blunder. The anti-TRS sentiment was reflected early in the day when postal ballots revealed a strong verdict amongst government employees.
While parties win or lose, the state election commission under the stewardship of a retired IAS officer, C. Parthasarathi, has not covered itself in glory with several controversial decisions, one passed late last night after midnight being stayed by the high court. The perception that SEC was hardly Caesar’s wife will go down as a sad day in the otherwise illustrious story of Indian election commissions being the highest upholders of the core values of our democracy.
Finally, now that elections for GHMC are over, it is a fair expectation that the winners will forget politics and apply their minds to addressing the problems of people and bettering the civic amenities of the city. Three cheers to that hope.