GHMC election in Telangana gains national limelight

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president J P Nadda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis are expected to join the campaign fray

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections has caught national attention with the Bharatiya Janata Party roping in its top national leaders to campaign for the party candidates.

While union ministers Prakash Javedekarr and Smriti Irani have already completed one round for campaigning in the premier IT hub, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president J P Nadda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis are expected to land in the city this week end.

“By sending top leaders here, the party wants to send a strong message to voters that BJP is here to stay, and also compare PM Modi’s administration and CM K Chandrasekhar Rao’s governance,” a party functionary was quoted by Times of India as saying.

Voting will be held in 150 municipal wards, on December 1 and a mayor will be elected for the corporation that has a budget of ₹ 5,380 crore this year, said an NDTV report. The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) dominated the last civic polls by winning 99 seats.

The saffron party, which won just four wards in the last election, is vying to emerge as the main opposition in the GHMC. It is trying to upstage Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM, which won 44 wards in the last election, by communally polarising the voters.

Curiously, the topics being highlighted in the campaigning are not related to issues affecting the lives of people but Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Osama bin Laden and Rohingya. In the past two days, the BJP's firebrand MP Tejasvi Surya has delivered hugely controversial speeches in which he has called AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi an "avatar of Mohammad Ali Jinnah". He also accused the Hyderabad MP of bringing "Rohingya Muslims instead of development" to the city, according to NDTV.

The BJP's Telangana president and MP, Bandi Sanjay Kumar, doubled down on Surya's comments by threatening a "surgical strike to flush out Rohingya and Pakistanis" in the old quarters of Hyderabad.The BJP leader also accused the TRS and AIMIM of trying to win the civic polls with the "illegal votes of Rohingya, Pakistanis and Afghanistanis".

According to NDTV, the BJP’s s new obsession with the Hyderabad local body polls is linked to its bypoll victory in the state's Dubbaka assembly constituency earlier this month. It was a narrow win by 1,000 votes, but a particularly sweet one, since state finance minister Harish Rao - considered the TRS's master poll strategist -- was in charge of Dubbaka.

The BJP senses an opportunity in Telangana and a vacuum in the opposition space. The Congress has been decimated in Andhra Pradesh and in Telangana, it was considerably weakened in the 2014

The GHMC polls are a litmus test for all parties because they are happening in the State capital where one-third of the population resided and is home to 24 of the 119 Assembly constituencies, says the Hindu. The parties will want to wrest control of the municipal body in the city for several reasons, one of which is owing to a huge land bank of the government.

Image Credit: Telangana Flash News

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