Setback for Congress in Hyderabad civic polls (Lead)

Hyderabad, Nov 26 ( Andhra Pradesh’s ruling Congress party suffered a setback in Hyderabad civic polls as it failed to secure majority in the 150-member body to capture the mayor’s post.

The ruling party failed to live up to its own expectations, bagging 52 seats in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) despite the fact that it had won as many as 14 out of 24 assembly seats the in GHMC limits in the April-May assembly elections.

It required at least 69 seats to grab the mayor’s post.

The Congress, which emerged as the single largest party, is now likely to enter into an agreement with the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) for the indirect elections to mayor and deputy mayor.

MIM, which won seven assembly seats in the recent polls, put up an impressive show, winning 43 out of 70 seats it contested.

The main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which had won only one assembly seat in the area, made significant inroads into the Congress bastion, especially on the outskirts, to win 45 seats.

It was a disappointment for the ruling party, which had projected 90 to 100 seats for itself. However, the party leaders claimed that it put up a good show.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, who had offered to quit if the TDP gets one seat more than the Congress, said the credit for the party’s victory goes to the pro-people schemes launched by Rajasekhara Reddy.

TDP leaders said the verdict was proof of people’s growing disillusionment with the Congress government.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also had a poor show, winning only five seats. The Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi and the Lok Satta, floated by former bureaucrat Jayaprakash Narayan were virtually wiped out. The PRP won only one seat.

Five others, including an Independent and two Congress rebel candidates, were also elected.

The newly-elected corporators and 48 ex-officio members (state legislators and MPs) will elect the mayor and deputy mayor on Dec 4.

The electoral college for the mayor’s election comprises 198 voters and any party or alliance need at least 100 votes to have their candidate elected to the post.

About 43 percent of 5.7 million voters had cast their votes in the elections for GHMC Monday.

This was the first test of strength for the political parties after the April-May elections to the state assembly and the Lok Sabha. The elections also come in a changed political scenario following YSR’s death.

It was also the first municipal election after Greater Hyderabad was created in 2007 after merging eight municipalities and 12 villages of neighbouring districts with Hyderabad.

This has made Greater Hyderabad the second biggest urban agglomerate in the country after New Delhi in terms of area (621.48 sq km).

The last election to the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH) was held in 2002. The TDP, which was in power in the state, had won majority of the seats in the then 100-member body in alliance with the BJP. The TDP candidate was elected mayor in the direct elections held to the post.