After more than a week of intense and vitriolic campaign, over 74 lakh eligible voters took part today in the elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation or GHMC. Polling began at 7 AM.
The polling for Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) election was so far peaceful with 18.20 per cent turnout reported till noon on Tuesday. The Telangana State Election Commission (SEC) ordered repoll in all 69 polling stations of Ward number 26 after it was found that the symbol of CPI(M) was printed in the ballot paper instead of CPI, an official release said.
The repoll would be held on December 3 from 7 AM to 6 PM in all the 69 polling stations. The CPI complained to the election authorities on the matter.
The Commission has instructed the election authority and GHMC to replace the Returning Officer for conduct of fresh poll. In view of the repoll, publication, broadcasting and telecasting of Exit polls on GHMC elections is banned till 6 PM on December 3, the SEC said. Till 1 pm, the vote percentage was 18.20 percent.
The civic body election is a high-stakes battle for the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the BJP, trying to make inroads, and Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM. This has been the most fiercely and bitterly fought municipal elections ever in Hyderabad with a high-octane campaign by the BJP that flew in national leaders - like Amit Shah, JP Nadda and Yogi Adityanath - hoping to convince Hyderabad that a change was needed.
Here are the highlights on the Hyderabad municipal corporation election:
Telangana: Actor Chiranjeevi cast his vote in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, in Hyderabad today.
Visuals from earlier in the day pic.twitter.com/vSF3kJR8tr- ANI (@ANI) December 1, 2020
Vote for a better tomorrow.- G Kishan Reddy (@kishanreddybjp) December 1, 2020
'Exercise Your Right' to the 'Right Effect'
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Step out to Vote. pic.twitter.com/3Y9gxrQ2MT
Telangana: TRS leader K Kavitha casts her vote at Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) election in Hyderabad.
"We want the people of Hyderabad to come & vote. It is a privilege to have the right to vote. If you don't vote, you won't have any right to question," she says pic.twitter.com/m8RxaoTT5x- ANI (@ANI) December 1, 2020
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation or GHMC was formed in April 2007 by merging 12 municipalities and eight gram panchayats with Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH). Four districts fall within GHMC limits, including Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Medchal-Malkajgiri and Sangareddy.
Hyderabad police chief Anjani Kumar had said security has been tightened in all areas. "Central and state forces are available in Hyderabad city. We have set up security at normal, sensitive, hypersensitive, and critical polling stations under the leadership of Inspector-level officers. Striking Force, Emergency Response Team will be available. Security has been set up at 293 hypersensitive pickets. We have set up six armed police teams at critical hypersensitive police centres," he said.
The BJP sees the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation election as a chance to carve out a space for itself in Telangana. In 2016, the party claimed just four of 150 seats as Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao's TRS swept 99. The BJP recently won the by-election to the Dubbak assembly constituency.
The Telangana State Election Commission is conducting the election with ballot papers instead of EVMs because of the coronavirus crisis. Voter IDs or one of the 18 alternative photo identity can be shown. Elderly voters and women with children need not wait in queues. There's no provision for online voting though postal ballots have been allowed.
Telangana Minister KT Rama Rao, who case his vote this morning, urged people to exercise their franchise.
1,122 candidates are contesting in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation election. The election is taking place in 150 divisions spread over four districts.
Detailed arrangements have been made for today's voting by the Telangana State Election Commission with 48,000 polling personnel and 52,500 police personnel deployed.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said after voting, "I appeal to the people of Hyderabad to cast their vote today to strengthen democracy."
"Following all Covid Safety Protocols, cast my vote along with my family at Kachiguda Polling Station earlier this morning. Voting is our constitutional right and all of us must exercise it in the interest of an able administration," Mr Reddy tweeted after casting his vote.