Hyderabad, Feb 2 (IANS) About 45 percent of the 74.23 lakh electorate cast their votes on Tuesday in the elections for Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) which were marred by lack of enthusiasm among voters and sporadic incidents of violence.
GHMC commissioner and special officer Janardhan Reddy said roughly 45 percent voters exercised their franchise. “This may change by two to three percent as the final figures will be available later,” he said.
The polling ended at 5 p.m. but those standing in the queues were allowed to cast their votes.
The turnout exceeded 42.92 percent recorded in 2009 polls but far below the expectation of GHMC officials, who were hoping a 20 percent increase in the voting.
Janardhan Reddy said the polling was “peaceful barring minor incidents”.
There was lack of enthusiasm among voters as the polling began on dull note but did not pick up as expected.
Clash between MIM and Congress workers and the attack by MIM workers on the house of deputy chief minister Mahmood Ali in the evening marred the polls.
Congress party’s Telangana state unit president Uttam Kumar Reddy and leader of opposition in state legislative council Mohammed Ali Shabbir received minor injuries in the attack by Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) workers at Mirchowk police station in the old city.
Demanding arrest of MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi and others involved, the Congress leaders staged a sit-in at the office of director general of police.
MIM workers also attacked the house of deputy chief minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader Mahmood Ali in Azampura. They tried to manhandle Mahmood Ali’s son Azam Ali.
Police arrested MIM lawmaker Ahmed Balala for the attack. Another MIM legislator Ahmed Pasha Khadri and Congress leader Mohammed Ghouse were arrested in the old city.
Polling began at 7 a.m. at 7,802 polling stations spread across the city.
A total of 7,423,980 voters, including 3,453,910 women, were eligible to cast their votes to decide the political fortunes of 1,333 candidates.
With the deployment of over 30,000 security personnel, election authorities made elaborate arrangements to ensure peaceful polling.
As many as 46,545 personnel were deployed for the election duty.
The officials of the commission and police were monitoring the balloting process through webcasting from 3,200 polling stations.
The state government has declared a holiday for all offices, educational institutions, shops and business establishments. Half-day holiday has also been declared for IT/ITES companies.
E. S. L. Narasimhan, who is governor of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and his wife Vimla Narasimhan cast their votes at a polling booth in Khairatabad.
Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya along with his family members cast their votes in Ramnagar.
Telangana’s Information Technology Minister K. Tarakarama Rao, who led the ruling TRS’ campaign, cast his vote in Banjara Hills. Deputy Chief Minister Mehmood Ali, Home Minister N. Narasimha Reddy, Commercial Taxes Minister T. Srinivas Yadav, and TRS general secretary K. Keshava Rao were among key leaders of the ruling party who cast their votes.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party president N. Chandrababu Naidu’s wife Bhuaneswari, son Lokesh, daughter Brahmini cast their votes in Jubliee Hills. Naidu’s brother-in-law and popular Telugu actor Balakrishna also exercised franchise.
Owaisi, his brother and party legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi also voted.
This is the first GHMC election after formation of Telangana state and the second after Greater Hyderabad was created in 2007 with the merger of eight municipalities and 12 villages of neighbouring districts with Hyderabad. This had made Greater Hyderabad the second biggest urban agglomerate in the country after New Delhi in terms of area (621.48 sq. km).
TRS, which did not contest first GHMC elections in 2009, is making a determined bid to capture power in the state capital. TRS president and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has already indicated that it will have a post-poll alliance with MIM to get the posts of mayor and deputy mayor.
MIM, a key player in city politics, had shared power with the Congress party in the previous municipal body.
This time Congress, the main opposition party, is contesting the elections on its own.
The TDP-BJP alliance is confident of giving tough fight to TRS by mainly banking on the voters from Andhra Pradesh settled here. They are estimated to be about 40 percent of the total electorate.
TRS, which had bagged only two of the 24 assembly seats in GHMC limits in 2014 elections, has also reached out to voters from Andhra Pradesh.
-Indo-Asian News Service