GHMC election: TRS retains Hyderabad civic body despite 'unexpected' results; BJP dubs loss 'moral victory'
While the TRS remained as the largest party winning 55 of the 150 wards (till 11 pm) in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation polls, the BJP made major gains winning 48 wards; the AIMIM came third with 44 seats, but the Congress could win only two
The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) seemed set to retain control of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), as it bagged 55 of the 150 wards on Friday.
So far, the results of 144 wards have been declared with the TRS winning the maximum seats, followed by BJP at the second position (48 seats) and AIMIM (44 seats) at the third position, at 9.40 pm as per the State Election Commission website. Congress has won two seats while results for six seats are still awaited. Repolling was held in Old Malakpet ward (No.26), reports said.
TRS faced tough competition from Asaduddin Owaisi's All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which gained a nominal lead briefly on Friday evening. As of 9.40 pm, the AIMIM had won 42 seats.
Meanwhile, the BJP's high-profile campaign, which also saw Union minister Amit Shah canvassing in the GHMC polls, reportedly paid off as the saffron party has won 46 seats, emerging as the second-largest party in the civic polls.
The BJP has made a massive improvement as compared to its performance in the 2016 civic polls when the party had won just four seats in alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
Lastly, the Congress was a distant fourth with just two seats to its name.
The K Chandrasekhar Rao-led TRS had swept the elections four years ago, winning 99 of the 150 wards.
Telangana minister KT Rama Rao on Friday spoke to reporters as the counting of votes cast in the GHMC polls was underway.
"I thank the people of Hyderabad who chose TRS as the single largest party to represent them in Council. The result is certainly not what we expected, we are short of 20-25 seats. We lost about 10-12 divisions with an extremely narrow margin," he said.
The BJP, meanwhile, termed the results a moral victory for the party with general secretary Bhupender Yadav claiming that the BJP is the only "only alternative" to the ruling TRS in Telangana.
The civic poll result is also a morale booster for the BJP as it has come soon after its victory in last month's bypoll to the Dubbak Assembly constituency.
Ballot papers were used in the election to the 150-ward Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) on 1 December. Counting of votes began at 8 am on Friday with postal ballots being counted first. The BJP was ahead of its rivals in the postal ballot votes.
The polling percentage was an unimpressive 46.55. Out of the 74.67 lakh voters, 34.50 lakh electors exercised their franchise.
While the ruling TRS fielded candidates in all the 150 wards, BJP set up nominees in 149 wards. The Congress, AIMIM, and TDP fielded candidates in 146, 51, and 106 wards, respectively.
Around 1,200 candidates were in the fray for 150 wards in the city.
Additionally, the mayor's post has been reserved for a woman this year, The Indian Express reported, adding that the counting of votes has been slow due to the use of ballot papers for the polls. This was done due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With an eye on the 2023 Telangana Assembly polls, the BJP had top leaders like Shah, JP Nadda, Smriti Irani, Yogi Adityanath, and Prakash Javadekar hit the campaign trail for the Hyderabad civic body polls, reports said. Meanwhile, the TRS banked on the charisma and performance of KCR, as chief minister Rao is known.
Meanwhile, the Telangana High Court on Friday suspended a circular issued by the State Election Commission (SEC) which allows counting of votes with "distinguish marks" other than the standard Swastik symbol (crossed arrow mark), for the polls held for Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
Hearing a House Motion, Justice Abhishek Reddy while suspending SEC's circular said the ballots which have "distinguish marks" should be kept separately, and if they are detrimental to the poll results, the outcome should not be announced.
"If the margin is less than the disputed ballot papers, then the disputed ballot papers shall not be taken into account and the result of the Ward may not be declared," the court order said.
Earlier some Returning Officers asked the SEC what they should do in case they find some "distinguish mark" instead of the Swastik symbol on any ballot paper.
Based on that the SEC on Thursday night issued a circular saying "if the intention of the voter is clear on marking to a particular candidate the vote can be treated as valid since it is the mistake of the polling officer..."
The petitioners Antony Reddy and K Surender (a candidate in the GHMC polls) sought the court to declare the circular issued by the SEC as illegal, arbitrary, and contrary to the election laws.
Sources in the SEC told PTI that all the returning officers have been communicated about the high court directive and act accordingly. The matter was posted to 7 December for further hearing.
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