BJP wants to expand its wings in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh by the next general elections.
Buoyed by the victory in the just concluded Dubbaka Assembly by-election in Telangana, the BJP national leadership is giving top priority to capturing the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, slated to be held on 1 December. BJP’s national general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Bhupender Yadav has been made in-charge of the party’s campaigning in the civic body polls.
We should not forget that Yadav has successfully led the BJP campaign in the Bihar Assembly elections and is known for his aggressive electoral strategies. Yadav heads a campaign committee consisting Karnataka Health Minister Dr K. Sudhakar, Karnataka MLA Satish Reddy, senior MLA from Maharashtra Ashish Shelar and Gujarat party unit secretary Pradip Singh Vaghela.
Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy and BJP OBC Morcha national convener Dr K. Laxman, too, have been given responsibilities to coordinate with the panel. The fact that these arrangements are looked after at the highest level—Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP President J.P. Nadda—indicate the amount of importance given by them to the GHMC elections.
BJP sees an opportunity in capturing the Hyderabad metropolitan body as it is keen on expanding its wings in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh by the next general elections. GHMC with an electorate of around 74 lakh voters will be a gateway to these two Telugu speaking states, the party leadership believes.
In the 2016 elections, the ruling TRS won 99 out of the total 150 divisions in GHMC, while its indirect electoral ally, AIMIM got 44, followed by BJP with 4, TDP 2 and Congress 2 and independents 3. Besides, there are another 52 ex-officio members of MPs, MLAs and MLCs, of which TRS has 37members. So, to win the mayor post, any party needs 102 members in a 202-member GHMC. BJP’s Telangana unit president and Karimnagar MP Bandi Sanjay expressed confidence that his party would win the mayor post, though it is not an easy task. Sensing the possibility of the BJP’s expansion after the Dubbaka bypoll win, CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has advanced the GHMC elections by two months, as the present body’s term ends in the last week of February 2021.
BJP will have to try hard to win GHMC for more than one reason. First is the city’s strategic location in the Deccan land, second is, Hyderabad city is key to its plans to come to power in Telangana in 2023 or 2024. The BJP will use all its resources and energies to win this prestigious civic body at any cost and prove that it is a party on the growth path.
TRS working president and Municipal Administration Minister K.T. Raama Rao (KTR) has been made the party in-charge in the GHMC polls, pitting him against Bhupender Yadav. Addressing a meet-the-press event in the city on Thursday, KTR has voiced confidence that his party would retain GHMC mayor post with a comfortable margin.
Besides other regular issues like drinking water supply, bad roads and power supply problems in slum areas, last month, Hyderabad city faced a calamitous situation when the century-worst heavy rains battered it. Lakhs of people were left homeless, while hundreds of old buildings crumbled and over 30 people died.
The TRS government has sanctioned the rain relief at the rate of Rs 10,000 per family hit by the heavy rains. In the first round of relief distribution, the government has handed over around Rs 400 crore to close to 4 lakh families. In the second round of distribution which began in the first week of November, another Rs 100 crore were given to around one lakh families.
The State Election Commission, which conducts the civic body polls, has suspended the distribution of the rain relief till after 4 December, when the results are announced. The government has distributed coupons to the affected families so that they can get the money after the polls. BJP cried foul on this and promised to distribute rain relief at the rate of Rs 25,000 per family if it wins the polls.
We need to see if the public, who have received the rain relief would en bloc vote for the ruling TRS or act otherwise or whether the BJP’s promise of Rs 25,000 relief per family will work in the elections. But, one thing is sure, both TRS and BJP will fight hard to wrest control of GHMC, with an annual budget of Rs 5,700 core.
Another phenomenon of these GHMC elections is dilution of the Congress which won the 2009 elections and ruled till 2016. After losing its deposit in the Dubbaka by-election, Congress leaders have lost their morale and are not able to put up a decent fight in GHMC. Of course, Congress MP A. Revanth Reddy is struggling hard to win the maximum divisions (out of the total 45) in his Malkajgiri Lok Sabha seat. So is the case with Union Minister Kishan Reddy whose Secunderabad Parliamentary constituency has 41 divisions. Here winning the maximum number of divisions is compulsory to his political future. The Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat with 43 divisions is the stronghold of the AIMIM and its leader and MP Asaduddin Owaisi is leaving no stone unturned to ward off the threat of the BJP to retain his base.