Asaduddin Owaisi led All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) has managed to retain their hold on 44 wards in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) Elections. This year, the party contested in 51 seats and won 44, of which most seats are from the old city part of Hyderabad. Unlike the TRS that lost a huge number of seats to the BJP, the AIMIM’s fortress in the old city is largely intact. This despite a divisive campaign by the BJP calling for Hyderabad’s name to be changed to Bhagyanagar, accusing Muslims in the old city of being Pakistanis and threatening them with a ‘surgical strike’.
In the Charminar zone of Hyderabad comprising 36 wards, the AIMIM has retained 29 seats while the BJP has managed to open their account with 7 wards. In the Khairatabad zone, the AIMIM has emerged the winner in 13 seats and it has also won a ward each at Secunderabad and Serilingampally zones. The AIMIM also managed to win the Ghansibazar seat, which was earlier won by the BJP. However, the AIMIM has been relegated to the third position in the GHMC Council as the BJP has won 48 seats and TRS 55.
In the run up to the polls, the AIMIM had locked horns with the BJP and the TRS. The TRS, which is a friendly party, distanced itself from AIMIM and said that the Mayor would be from their party. Though initially Owaisi did not take on Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao directly, later on he blamed the CM for imposing many lockdowns. However, throughout a large part of the campaigning, local issues such as the overflowing sevrage, poorly maintained roads and overflowing garbage took a back seat. The AIMIM had faced severe criticism from residents over their handling of the Hyderabad floods in October. But with the discourse largely being around communalism and secularism, and with many BJP leaders openly targeting Muslims, the Muslim population seems to have decided to rally behind the AIMIM, and keep ward-related issues on the backburner.
All 150 wards under Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) went to polls on December 1. In the 2016 civic polls, the AIMIM party had contested in 60 seats, of which they had won 44 wards. Meanwhile, in the Old City area, the BJP had managed to win about three seats from the Old city area, which includes Ghanzi bazar, Gowlipura and Begum Bazar.
During campaign, the state BJP President Bandi Sanjay courted controversy when he called for a ‘surgical strike’ in old city of Hyderabad, with a predominantly Muslim population. The comment had drawn criticism from leaders of both the TRS and the AIMIM.
The BJP MP Tejasvi Surya while campaigning for the BJP had accused Owaisi of ‘Islamism, separatism and extremism’ similar to Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan
Owaisi too had criticised the BJP for their communally charged campaign for municipal polls,"Where have I become Jinnah? Those who believed in Jinnah -- the razakars -- fled to Pakistan. We dismissed the two nation theory and chose Bharat as our nation. I will not leave India because my forefathers and Adam first stepped on the Earth over here."