Amit Shah in the old city; BJP makes its mark in Hyderabad.

Amit Shah in the old city; BJP makes its mark in Hyderabad.

Massive BJP surge stuns KCR’s party in Hyderabad civic polls; Owaisi third

Polarising campaign focused more on Pakistan, Jinnah and new name for Hyderabad

Agency Report | Hyderabad | 4 December, 2020 | 10:30 PM

Telangana's ruling TRS party emerges as the largest party as votes were counted in the high-stakes Hyderabad municipal election, but its victory was dimmed by the BJP's massive surge after an exceptionally high-voltage and divisive campaign. The BJP, which mounted a campaign that was unusually aggressive for any local election, has taken second place in a close fight with the AIMIM of Asaduddin Owaisi.

The results of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls may be announced later Friday night.

The TRS or Telangana Rashtra Samiti of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao may see a 40 per cent drop in its tally from the 2016 polls, as it concedes at least 30 seats to the BJP. The BJP, with nothing to lose, made big gains at the cost of the ruling party in a region where it was almost non-existent so far. For the BJP, these results mark a giant leap in their plans for the 2023 Telangana election, which they say will be a straight fight between the TRS and the BJP, with the Congress hardly a player.

According to the latest leads, the TRS may end up with less than 60 of 150 municipal seats or wards. The BJP may win 50, with the AIMIM retaining at least 40.

In the previous election, the TRS scored 99 seats, the AIMIM 44 and the BJP 4.

“The result is not what we expected. We fell short by 20-25 seats than our expectations. 10-12 seats saw a margin of less than 200 votes. There’s nothing to be disappointed, we will be single largest party,” said Telangana minister KT Rama Rao or KTR, the Chief Minister’s son.

The TRS has saved face but the loss of nearly 40 per cent of its municipal seats is a worrying sign for the state’s ruling party.

“The people of Hyderabad have made it clear what will be the results of the Telangana assembly elections (2023). I can say with confidence that people of Telangana have decided to say goodbye to the corrupt KCR government,” BJP President JP Nadda said.

A deeply polarising campaign this time by most parties focused more on Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and whether Hyderabad wants its name changed to Bhagyanagar than civic matters like roads, sanitation and water supply.

The BJP raised the stakes in the civic polls after its victory in the recent by-election to the Dubbak assembly constituency. The party flew in national leaders like Amit Shah, JP Nadda, Yogi Adityanath, Prakash Javadekar and Smriti Irani, hoping to convince Hyderabad that a change was needed, if not now then certainly in the 2023 state polls.

The BJP’s Tejasvi Surya, the Bangalore South MP, was widely criticised for his provocative remarks while taking on the TRS and Asaduddin Owaisi.

BJP’s Telangana president and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar controversially said his party would conduct a “surgical strike” in the old city, if necessary, to send away the Rohingya and Pakistanis.

KTR, who led the TRS campaign, sought to strike an emotional chord with the people, appealing to them to “save the city from divisive forces”, hinting at the BJP.

The BJP’s electoral gains have come from the flood-hit parts of Hyderabad where there was public anger against the state government over the alleged mishandling of flood relief. The BJP also reached out to those who felt disenchanted by the TRS, like the Reddy community, the so-called settler population.

The GHMC was formed in April 2007 by merging 12 municipalities and eight gram panchayats with the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH). Four districts fall within GHMC limits, including Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Medchal-Malkajgiri and Sangareddy.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Working President K. T. Rama Rao said that the results of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) were not to the party’s expectations.

He told reporters that the TRS was short of 20-25 seats. “Certainly the results are not what we expected. We were short of 20-25 seats,” he said.

Rama Rao, who is son of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, said TRS lost in 10-12 seats by an extremely narrow margin of 100-200 votes.

He, however, asked the party not to be disheartened over the outcome. He said people of Greater Hyderabad blessed the TRS as the single largest party.

KTR, as the TRS leader is popularly known, said the party will analyse the poll results and address all issues as to why there was no desired outcome.

“We will discuss in the party,” was all he said while responding to queries on whether the TRS will take support from the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM).

With 55 seats in 150-member GHMC, the TRS has emerged as the single largest party. It was leading in one division. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came second with 47 seats and was leading in two divisions.

TRS’ friendly party MIM bagged 43 seats.

KTR thanked people who voted for the party and all the leaders and workers who worked for the party.

Telangana state Congress chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy resigned from the post, owning moral responsibility for the party’s defeat in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections.

Reddy said, in a statement, that he has requested the party’s central leadership to take up the process of selection of new president of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee immediately.

The Congress faced a severe drubbing with its candidates winning only two divisions in the 150-member GHMC. The party had a similar fate in the 2016 polls.

Reddy, who is also a member of Lok Sabha, said he had sent his resignation to the central leadership in the past. He has requested the All India Congress Committee once again to accept the same.

Reddy had led the party’s campaign in the GHMC polls. Party’s state leaders had participated in the campaign.

Unlike the BJP, which brought its national president and several Union ministers for the campaign, the Congress campaign was a low-key affair.

Adding to Congress’ troubles, its leader and former MP Konda Vishweshwer Reddy, in his reaction to GHMC polls, stated that people are against the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and they feel that only the BJP can take on the TRS.

The GHMC polls threw a hung municipal body. The TRS emerged as single largest party with 55 seats and BJP won 46 seats to be the second largest party. Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) bagged 43 seats. (IANS)