Polling for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) commenced at 7 am on Tuesday and will go on till 6 in the evening. Over 7.4 million people are exercising their franchise in the fifth largest metropolitan city area of India. As many as 1,122 candidates are in the fray for 150 constituencies.
The counting of votes will take place on December 4 and results will be declared in the evening. This year’s election is witnessing voting through the paper ballot system rather than the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
On Tuesday morning, people were seen lined up at various polling booths to cast their votes. Union minister G Kishan Reddy voted at the Deeksha Modern School in Kachiguda.
Meanwhile, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi cast his vote at the St Faiz High School in Hyderabad, which is among the several polling booths designated this year. Telangana minister and TRS leader KT Rama Rao was also seen exercising his franchise.
Other top officials who voted include, Cyberabad police commissioner V C Sajjannar, Hyderabad police commissioner Anjani Kumar, Telangana high court chief justice Rajendra Singh Chowhan and many others. Prominent Telugu actor and former Union minister K Chiranjeevi and his wife Surekha had cast their votes at Jubilee Hills Club polling station.
Voter turnout at several polling stations in Hyderabad was poor. Only 4.2 per cent of voters cast their votes in the first two hours. Chiranjeevi and KT Rama Rao appealed to all eligible voters of Hyderabad to exercise their franchise in big numbers to save democracy.
In view of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) in India, polling booths have been sanitised and areas have been marked inside and outside the booths to ensure social distancing. It is mandatory for voters to sanitise their hands and wear masks/face coverings before casting their votes along with maintaining social distancing while standing in queues.
The parties which are fighting to emerge victorious in the municipal polls are the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), AIMIM, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Congress Party. But, the direct contest is between the TRS, BJP and the AIMIM.
TRS won in 2015 as it secured 99 seats out of the total 150. The AIMIM which was in alliance with the TRS won 44 seats and the BJP-TDP alliance won 5 seats. The Congress could only manage to win 2 seats.
The star campaigners for 2020 have been Union home minister Amit Shah, Asaduddin Owaisi, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, KT Rama Rao among many others.
Home minister Amit Shah, who earlier held an hour-long road show at Warasiguda in Secunderabad, said on November 29 that Hyderabad was an integral part of the country and added the capital city of Telangana would get rid of Nizam culture if the BJP wins. Shah also highlighted that the mayor of Hyderabad would also be from the BJP.
Adityanath stirred up a controversy after he pitched for naming Hyderabad as Bhavyanagar. At a roadshow in Malkajgiri division, he said that names of Allahabad and Faizabad were also changed after the BJP came into power in Uttar Pradesh.
Earlier, Owaisi had slammed the BJP’s campaign by saying that the party deployed so many leaders as if a Prime Minister was being elected. “It doesn’t look like a Hyderabad election, it’s as if we’re electing a Prime Minister in place of Narendra Modi,” he said.