Voter apathy marks Hyderabad civic polls (Second Lead)

Hyderabad, Nov 23 ( Voter apathy marked polling in the Hyderabad civic polls Monday, the first test of strength for political parties after the April-May elections to the state assembly and the Lok Sabha.

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections also come in the changed political scenario following the Sep 2 death of then chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash.

Only about 43 percent of voters turned out to elect the 150-member civic body. Despite appeals by political leaders and celebrities, most preferred to enjoy a holiday — away from the polling booths.

GHMC Commissioner S.P. Singh told reporters that barring minor incidents, polling remained peaceful. He said the final polling percentage would be known later.

About 5.7 million voters were eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fortunes of 1,310 candidates, including 403 women.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N. Chandrababu Naidu, Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) chief K. Chiranjeevi, Lok Satta leader Jayaprakash Narayan, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Bandaru Dattatreya and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi were among the voters.

Actors N. Balakrishna, Junior NTR and Nagarjuna, tennis star Sania Mirza, state Election Commissioner A.V.S. Reddy and Director General of Police Girish Kumar also exercised their franchise.

This is 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 counting of votes will be taken up Nov 26. The mayor and deputy mayor will be elected Dec 4.

Rosaiah increased his party’s stakes Sunday by throwing a challenge at Chandrababu Naidu that he would resign if the TDP wins one seat more than the ruling party.

The last election to the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH) was held in 2002.

While the Congress is contesting all 150 seats, the TDP has fielded candidates in 141 seats. The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which is likely to emerge kingmaker in a hung house, is contesting 70 seats.