Hyderabad: In stark contrast to the fierce 12-day campaign that preceded the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, D-Day was peaceful but at the same time, disappointing with the capital region sticking to its tradition of low voting percentages.
A slight surge towards evening, with some parts of the city apparently waking up from deep slumber and rushing to polling booths, saw the overall voting percentage at 5 pm being pegged at 36.73 per cent. The poll percentage in the first GHMC elections in the new State of Telangana in 2016 was a much higher 45.29 percent, even when the campaign that around was on a much lesser scale than now, with the 2020 version bringing national attention to Hyderabad’s bylanes.
Earlier in the day, the city stuck to its typical laidback attitude, with polling booths reflecting the general holiday mood that the rest of the city appeared to be in. There was no semblance of poll day in many booths, with the polling percentage being a measly 3.95 at 9 am and 20.35 at 1 pm, with pictures of polling officials sleeping at their desks that made rounds on social media conveying the overall mood. Wards like Rein Bazaar recorded 0.56 percent and Ameerpet, just 0.79 percent at 1 pm while several areas had below 10 percentages.
There was a slight surge in voting percentage in the city post lunch, though the overall scene remained dull with the polling percentage across the GHMC limits being pegged at 29.76 at 3 pm. This was after areas like Rein Bazaar saw the percentage shooting up to 18.82 from 0.56, while in Talabchanchalam, it went up to 24.99 from 0.74, and in Ameerpet, to 27.13 from 0.79.
In fact, the trend till 4 pm across the Old City, which usually witnesses good polling, surprised old-timers, with many of them attributing the low turnouts to Covid-19 fears and rumours of trouble breaking out. By 5 pm, the percentage slowly climbed, but even then settling at 36.73 percent.
Except for minor skirmishes, there were no major incidents till 8 pm. The only glitch in the process was a printing mistake that prompted the State Election Commission to announce re-polling in all the polling stations of Ward 26-Old Malakpet, on December 3 from 7 am to 6 pm.
The low turnout, meanwhile, saw the State BJP leadership already preparing an alibi for itself by alleging that the TRS connived with the SEC to bring down the voter turnout to work to its advantage. On the other hand, Cyberabad Police Commissioner V C Sajjanar expressed concern over the low turnout and suggested that the Election Commission should think of incentives to those who vote.
“Maybe voting history and details should be made important for admission into courses, for certificates and jobs among others,” he said.
Telangana Information Technology Association president Sundeep Kumar Makthala said about 5.82 lakh employees were working in Hyderabad’s IT sector, with a majority of them now working from their hometowns, which was one major reason for the low percentages.
The low turnout has also triggered discussions on who stands to gain now, whether it was the BJP or the TRS and the MIM. Interestingly, the Congress, once a major force in the GHMC, is nowhere in the picture at all.
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