The counting of votes in the high-stakes Hyderabad civic poll began on Friday morning. Though the run-up to the poll saw a high-pitched campaign by the parties, the turnout of the voters on December 1 was an unimpressive 46.55% (34.50 lakh) out of the total 74.67 lakh voters. Elaborate arrangements have been made for the counting process which would begin at 8 am on Friday. Counting centres have been set up at 30 places and the total number of personnel engaged in counting is 8,152, official sources said on Thursday.
The entire counting process would be recorded with CCTV cameras installed at every counting table, they said. Ballot papers were used for the poll and consequently, the results are likely to be known only in the evening or in the night.
The Telangana State Election Commission (SEC) decided to conduct the election with ballot papers after obtaining the views of major political parties, health department in view of COVID-19 and taking into consideration various relevant issues, the SEC said earlier.
The lead-up to the polls witnessed a vociferous campaign by the parties. Bolstered by its victory in the recent bye-poll to the Dubbaka Assembly constituency, the BJP conducted a spirited campaign to win the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls to boost its chances in the 2023 Assembly polls.
It has drafted its General Secretary Bhupendra Yadav, who has been its in-charge for Bihar, to supervise the poll preparations in Hyderabad.
Top leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party president J P Nadda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar, Smriti Irani and MoS (Home) G Kishan Reddy, who is Lok Sabha member from Secunderabad, party MP and BJYM national president Tejasvi Surya participated in the campaign.
The BJP highlighted the TRS's "alliance" with the AIMIM and sought votes to provide a clean and transparent administration in the city. The TRS, however, has denied any alliance with the AIMIM.
The TRS's campaign was led by its working president and state Municipal Administration Minister K T Rama Rao, while party supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao addressed a public meeting. The state's ruling party has deployed several state ministers and legislators for canvassing in the city.
The Congress's poll battle was led by its state president N Uttam Kumar Reddy and working president A Revanth Reddy (both MPs) and other senior leaders.
The TDP, once a major force in the state, sought to revive its fortunes highlighting the development witnessed in the city, including in the IT sector, during N Chandrababu Naidu's regime as Chief Minister in undivided Andhra Pradesh.
The TRS and BJP leaders were engaged in a war of words. BJP's Telangana president and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar found himself in a row following his comments that his party would conduct a "surgical strike" in the old city in Hyderabad, if necessary, to send away Rohingyas and Pakistanis after it wins the post of Mayor in the polls.
AIMIM's Akbaruddin Owaisi, in a poll campaign, earned the wrath of his opponents by asking whether the 'samadhis' of former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao and TDP founder N T Rama Rao, built on the Hussain Sagar lake banks, would be removed as he questioned the eviction drive against "poor people" residing near water bodies.
The polls in the city also assume political significance as 24 Assembly segments fall under the GHMC limits.