Hyderabad: Elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) threw up a hung house as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made big inroads to deny the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) a clear majority.
TRS emerged as the single largest party with 55 seats in the 150-member municipal body while the BJP won 48 seats, signalling its emergence as a major political force in the state.
Asaduddin Owaisi led Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which retained 44 seats, has emerged as the kingmaker. TRS and MIM are likely to enter into a power sharing arrangement to rule the municipal body.
The Congress could win just two seats. Owning the responsibility for the party's disastrous performance, state Congress chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy announced his resignation from the post on Friday evening.
The results came as a big shock to the TRS, which had won a landslide majority in 2016 with 99 seats. With just four seats in the previous elections, the BJP improved its performance manifold.
Result in one division (Neredmet) was withheld as the number of ballots with 'distinguishing mark' other than 'swastik' was more than the majority of TRS. The ruling party was leading by 505 seats but ballots with 'distinguishing mark' other than 'swastik' was 544. The result will be subject to High Court order in the matter.
The counting day saw several twists and turns in the fortunes of the parties. Though TRS appeared set to retain power with lead in 70 divisions at around 4 p.m., the scene changed subsequently with the BJP racing ahead in divisions where it was locked in neck-and-neck battle with the TRS.
The newly elected corporators and 52 ex-officio members will elect the Mayor. Since TRS has a majority in ex-officio members, it requires 65 corporators to have its Mayor. The party may now have to negotiate power sharing agreement with the MIM if the latter doesn't extend unconditional support. In 2009, when GHMC polls had thrown a similar verdict, the Congress had shared power with the MIM, leaving the post of Mayor to MIM for two years.
The post of Mayor this time has been reserved for women.
Terming the results not to the expectations of the party, TRS working President K.T. Rama Rao said the party fell short by 20-25 seats. When asked about the possibility of an alliance with the MIM, he said the party would discuss all the issues and then take a decision.
Performing beyond its own expectations and making big inroads in the state capital, the BJP replaced MIM as the second largest party.
The saffron party fought the polls with all its might with top Central leaders and Union ministers campaigning for its candidates.
The party's state chief Bandi Sanjay said that people have taught a lesson to Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao for his arrogance and corruption. He said despite all the unfair means adopted by the TRS, people gave their mandate to the BJP and they see it as the sole alternative to TRS.
Counting of votes cast in all 150 divisions began at 8 a.m. at 30 places in the city with Telangana State Election Commission deploying over 8,000 personnel.
The police made elaborate security arrangements in the city in view of the counting. Prohibitory orders and traffic restrictions were imposed around the counting centres.
The police in Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda have imposed a ban on victory rallies for the next 48 hours.
Out of the total 74.67 lakh voters, 46.55 per cent had cast their votes in 149 divisions on Tuesday. There were 1,925 postal ballots.
Polling in one division was stopped due to discrepancy in ballot paper and re-poll was held on Thursday.
A total of 1,122 candidates tested their political fortunes.
Though it was just a civic body election, GHMC polls caught the attention of the entire country as the BJP pulled out all the stops in terms of resources and fielded all the top leaders except Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sensing an opportunity to trounce TRS, several BJP national leaders including Home Minister Amit Shah, national president JP Nadda and Hindutva mascot and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath campaigned in the city. Even as they tried to rake up controversial issues like changing Hyderabad's name to Bhagyanagar and alleging links of TRS with anti-national elements and promising surgical strike on MIM stronghold in old city, the party could not realize its dream of capturing the GHMC. Amit Shah had promised that on coming to power the BJP would end the "Nizam culture" in the city. It was first time in the country that so many national leaders campaigned in a city corporation election.
However the result marked a setback for the TRS, which had won 99 of the 150 seats back in 2016. This time BJP wrested many of the seats and emerged as the main opposition in the Corporation. Congress on the other hand remained where it was by winning two seats so far but lost its vote share to the BJP. TDP, once a big political force in the city was completely wiped out this time.
In 2016 the TRS had polled 44% of votes with 99 seats and AIMIM came second with 16% of votes and 44 seats. TDP had come third with 13% of votes and just 1 seat. BJP had polled 10% of votes and four seats and Congress 10% of votes and two seats.