The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is looking to score another electoral victory as it appears ahead of the opposition in the elections to urban local bodies scheduled on Wednesday.
The TRS is confident of scoring yet another electoral victory as the main opposition Congress seems to be in disarray, still reeling under the defections of a dozen MLAs to the ruling party and the defeat in the by-elections to Huzurnagar Assembly seat last year.
A year after retaining power in the state with a landslide victory, winning majority of Lok Sabha seats and sweeping the village, ‘mandal’ (block) and district level polls and also wresting a Assembly seat from the Congress in the by-election, the TRS aims to tighten its grip further by winning majority of seats in 129 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).
A total of 12,898 candidates are in fray for 2,727 wards in 120 municipalities and 325 wards in nine municipal corporations. Polling will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in over 7,700 polling stations on Wednesday. Nearly 80 lakh voters are eligible to cast their votes.
As many as 59 new municipalities were created last year by upgrading gram panchayats following creation of 23 new districts.
While all 120 municipalities and eight corporations are going to polls on Wednesday, elections for 60-member Karimnagar corporation will be held on January 24.
The corporations going to polls exclude the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) as its tenure is not yet over. Ten other ULBs, including Khammam and Warangal corporations, are also not going to polls.
In an indication that the TRS has an edge, its candidates were elected unopposed in 77 wards. All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), a friendly party of the TRS, also won three wards without contest.
While the TRS is contesting all the wards on its own, AIMIM has fielded candidates in 276 wards.
A confident TRS is seeking the votes on the basis of its performance during last six years. Such is the TRS confidence that its President and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao did not campaign for the party. His son and TRS working President K. T. Rama Rao addressed a few election meetings in his Sircilla Assembly constituency.
Ministers and MLAs led the campaign in their respective districts. However, the TRS is facing the rebel problems in some ULBs. Rama Rao, however, said such problems were common in a party with large number of aspirants.
Rama Rao, who holds the portfolios of municipal administration, industry and information technology, pointed out that in many wards there were no takers for the Congress and BJP tickets.
Congress state President Uttam Kumar Reddy and other party leaders participated in the campaign. They alleged that TRS has an “undue” advantage as the election schedule and reservation quota was designed in a way to benefit the ruling party.
The Congress leaders, in their campaign, highlighted the failures of the TRS government. They targeted the Chief Minister for various alleged acts of omissions and commissions of the government.
The BJP, which suffered humiliating defeat in Huzurnagar by-election, will be fighting to salvage its pride. After making huge inroads to win four Lok Sabha seats, the party faced a drubbing in Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituency (MPTC) and Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituency (ZPTC polls) and even forfeited its deposit in Huzurnagar.
The party faces a tough task of winning the ULBs falling under four Lok Sabha constituencies represented by it. State BJP President K. Laxman and its MPs campaigned aggressively for the party candidates. They even whipped up the sentiments over Citizenship Amendment Act targeting those opposing it.
Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy also campaigned for the BJP, addressing few election meetings.
AIMIM’s campaign also revolved around the CAA, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR). Its President and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi led the campaign.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which had stayed away from Lok Sabha polls, fielded candidates in 401 wards. Its state President L. Ramna exuded confidence of the party doing well.
The Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS), the Communist Party of India (CPI) and other smaller parties are also in the fray.