Following a high- decibel campaign over the last 12 days, elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) was set to get underway on Tuesday.
The polling for the fifth largest metropolitan city area in the country will begin at 7 am and close at 6 pm. As many as 7,467,256 voters will vote, with 1,122 candidates in the fray for 150 seats, each representing one division of the GHMC.
Unlike the previous polls, the traditional ballot papers have replaced the electronic voting machines. “The counting of votes will take place on December 4 and the results would be declared by the same evening,” state election commissioner C Parthasarathy said on Monday.
As part of Covid-19 measures, authorities have sanitised polling stations and made it mandatory for voters to use sanitiser before entering the booths. Authorities have also marked the area at the polling stations to ensure social distancing in queues.
The local body polls have become a prestige battle for major political parties contesting the elections. The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is contesting in all the 150 divisions, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 149, Congress in 146, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 106 and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) in 51 divisions.
In the 2015 elections, the first after the formation of Telangana, the TRS had won 99 out of the 150 seats, dislodging the Congress which won only two seats. AIMIM, which contested the elections in alliance with the TRS, had won 44 seats, while the BJP-TDP alliance won five seats.
The BJP, buoyed by its recent victory in the by-elections to Dubbak assembly seat, is hoping to emerge as a major contender before the 2023 state assembly elections. The party brought in senior leaders, including Union home minister Amit Shah, to campaign, prompting AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi to say, it seemed the “people are going to pick a new wazir-e-azam (Prime Minister).”