The ruling party at the Centre, the BJP, now hopes to make inroads in Telangana with the Hyderabad polls.
The new-found confidence stems from an impressive performance at a recently held by-polls. It unseated the ruling party candidate and made a huge boost in its vote share. The BJP has at different times been successful in Goshamahal, Malakpet, Karwan, Amberpet, Uppal, Musheerabad, Khairatabad assembly constituencies in Hyderabad. The BJP has also been winning the Secunderabad parliamentary seat. Still, the impact of Dubbak byelections is clearly visible.
GHMC elections in Hyderabad. The major contestants are:
The ruling party at the State, the TRS,
The ruling party at the Centre, the BJP, and
A fast emerging political force, the AIMIM.
The TRS is contesting all 150 seats, the BJP has put up its candidates in 149 seats. The AIMIM is contesting in 51 seats.
The grand old party, the Congress, is nowhere in the picture. It is though contesting in 146 seats.
In all, there are 1,825 candidates in the race.
In 2016 Hyderabad polls, the score line was:
TRS – 99
AIMIM – 44
BJP – 3
Congress – 2
TDP – 1
The TRS then had an absolute majority, AIMIM’s stronghold in the Old Hyderabad City remained strong. In the past, TDP and Congress were major forces. The BJP was also in the fray, sometimes alone and sometimes in alliance with the TDP. The question that everyone has been asking is : What is at stake for the political parties?
The BJP views this municipal poll as a precursor to the upcoming battles for the next general elections. It seems that it wants to get some sort of a foothold in Hyderabad and pose a serious challenge to the rest of the South India regional parties. The space vacated by the Andhra parties like the TDP, YSRCP and Jana Sena, and the gradual but sure disappearance of the Congress, is indeed an opportunity for the BJP.
Clearly the Hyderabad polls in 2020 has become a battle for capturing power in one of India’s most prosperous cities. None of the contesting parties is willing to take it easy. An unusually high-voltage campaign by the BJP has turned a municipal poll into an unusually high stakes and polarizing contest.
This time, a keen contest is likely in 99 divisions in Greater Hyderabad between TRS and BJP and in 51 seats between BJP, TRS, and the AIMIM.
Though elections to the Hyderabad civic body has always been hotly contested, this time unusual phrases like a surgical strike on the old city, flushing out Rohingyas and Pakistanis from Hyderabad have often been heard. The names of Jinnah, Babur, and Akbar found several mentions in political comparisons. Besides, a promise to change the name of the city from Hyderabad to Bhagyanagar was also witnessed. The PM Narendra Modi has campaigned in the city. The UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath also came to Hyderabad to support BJP candidates. Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, along with top BJP leaders arrived in the city to release the BJP manifesto.
Such things, the type of language, narratives, and provocative statements never appeared for a municipal poll earlier.
In response, the ruling TRS, seemingly unfazed by BJP’s strides, said, “This is not Ahmedabad, this is Hyderabad.”
It is true that the unprecedented interest the GHMC election has generated has raised eyebrows. It was arguably the most intense campaign, a no-holds barred, and an extremely high-pitched affair for a local body election in recent times. Many see it as a precursor to the BJP’s chief strategy to use all its resources in civic bodies’ elections in non-BJP ruled States across India hereinafter.