In what seems to be a repeat of the Legislative Assembly elections, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the state seems to have swept the first phase of the panchayat polls, the results for which were announced on Monday.
As of 8 pm on Monday, candidates who were backed by the TRS bagged 1,871 seats while the Congress-backed candidates won 537 seats. Sarpanch candidates sympathetic to the TDP won in 18 seats while CPI and CPM's count stood at 10 and 24 respectively. Other candidates who either were affiliated to other parties or stood as independents, won 469 seats.
By 9:30 pm, candidates backed by the TRS had won 2,446 seats while the Congress' count stood at 829. The BJP and TDP won 59 and 22 seats respectively, while the CPM and CPI had bagged 29 and 17 seats. Other candidates won 671 panchayat seats.
According to media reports, as part of the first phase, polls were held in 4,479 villages, out of which 769 candidates won unanimously. Elections for more than 12,000 gram panchayats in the state are being conducted in three phases, on January 21, 25 and 30.
The elections have not been without controversy as earlier this month, activists met with officials from Telanganaâs Election Commission and alleged that posts in the upcoming panchayat election in the state were being âauctionedâ.
The issue was raised by Telangana Election Watch, a body consisting of more than 30 civil society organisations, who claimed that the state governmentâs announcement that a grant of Rs 10 lakh would be sanctioned to panchayats where a Sarpanch was elected unanimously, had made things worse.
âElection Watch has observed that in many villages, informal village developmental committees and other such organisations are exerting pressure on probable candidates for unanimity at cost ie, if people are elected unopposed, they are willing to pay a price. In some other cases, the posts are being auctioned in advance, making mockery of elections,â the organisation said in a press release.
âAdding fuel to the fire, the state governmentâs policy of rewarding the Gram Panchayat with a grant of Rs 10 lakh and some prominent politicians announcing Rs 15 lakh from their funds, for unanimous elections, are also pressurising contesting candidates,â the press release added.