Signalling its emergence as a dominant force in Telangana, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 48 seats in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls to deny the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) a clear majority.
Though the TRS was heading to retain power in the 150-member municipal body with lead in 70 divisions at around 4 pm, the scene changed dramatically with BJP racing ahead in divisions where it was locked in neck-and-neck battle with the TRS.
Performing beyond its own expectations and making big inroads in the state capital, the BJP won 48 seats. The TRS, which bagged 55 seats, emerged as the single-largest party but fell short of the majority mark.
It may have to seek the support of Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which won 44 seats. The Congress finished a distant fourth with just two seats.
The newly elected corporators and 52 ex-officio members elect the mayor. Since the TRS has majority ex-officio members, it required 65 corporators to have its mayor. The party may now have to negotiate power-sharing agreement with the AIMIM 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 AIMIM, leaving the post of the mayor for AIMIM for two years. The post of mayor this time has been reserved for woman candidate.
The results came as a huge shock to the TRS, which had bagged 99 seats in the 2016 polls. The BJP, which had secured only four seats in the previous elections, saw a big jump in its numbers to emerge as the second largest party, a position which AIMIM was enjoying till now.
Bolstered by its victory in the recent bypoll to Dubbak assembly constituency, the BJP had conducted a spirited campaign to win the GHMC polls to boost its chances in the 2023 Telangana assembly polls.
Top leaders, including Union home minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Union ministers Prakash Javadekar, Smriti Irani and MoS (Home) G Kishan Reddy, who is Lok Sabha member from Secunderabad, party MP and BJYM national president Tejasvi Surya had participated in the campaign. The BJP highlighted the TRS "alliance" with the AIMIM and sought votes to provide clean and transparent administration in the city.
Calling the results a “moral victory” for the party, BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav said the saffron party has emerged as the "only alternative" to the ruling TRS in Telangana.
"The results are very encouraging and a morale booster for the BJP, and in a way, it is a moral victory of the party. The results reaffirms that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership and his model of good governance has acceptability across regions," Yadav, who was deputed as in-charge for the local elections in Hyderabad, said.
TRS working president KT Rama Rao said the results were not up to the party's expectations. "Certainly the results are not what we expected. We were short of 20-25 seats," he said.
Rama Rao, who is the son of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, said TRS lost in 10-12 seats by an extremely narrow margin of 100-200 votes. KTR, as the TRS leader is popularly known, said the party will analyse the poll results. To a question on alliance with Owaisi, he said, “We will discuss in the party."
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said he has asked all newly elected corporators from his party to begin work on Saturday.
“We have won on 44 seats in GHMC elections. I have spoken to all newly elected corporators and asked them to begin their work from tomorrow itself,” he said. “We will fight the BJP in a democratic way. We are confident that the people of Telangana will stop the BJP from expanding its footprint in the state.”
While the TRS had fielded candidates in all 150 wards in the election, the BJP put up nominees in 149. The Congress, AIMIM and the TDP fielded candidates in 146, 51 and 106 wards, respectively.