Telangana municipal elections tomorrow, ruling TRS may face tough fight from BJP

Sreenivas Janyala
Telangana municipal elections tomorrow, ruling TRS may face tough fight from BJP

In the nine municipal corporations, 325 corporators and 2727 councillors in 120 municipalities would be elected.

Telangana is all set for elections in nine municipal corporations and 120 municipalities on Wednesday. Unlike previous elections, the BJP has turned out to be the main rival for the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), rather than the Congress. The high-pitched campaign ended Monday with the TRS being the most visible party across the state, and better prepared for the crucial polls. If the TRS makes a clean sweep, it would establish the ruling party’s absolute domination over the state. The TRS has already won 80 wards unanimously.

In the nine municipal corporations, 325 corporators and 2727 councillors in 120 municipalities would be elected. The municipal corporations are Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, Karimnagar Municipal Corporation, Khammam Municipal Corporation, Nizamabad Municipal Corporation, Warangal Municipal Corporation, Ramagundem Municipal Corporation, and three merged corporations in Ranga Reddy and Medchal-Malkajgiri districts.

The Congress is ill-prepared for the polls and could not even find enough candidates. While TPCC chief N Uttam Kumar Reddy did his best to ramp up the campaign, it did not have much effect in the nine municipal corporation areas. In the municipalities, the Congress was hardly able to find suitable contestants. ``We had very little time to prepare. The polls were announced on January 7 and nominations started the next day. The election is on January 22, how can any party find suitable candidates and prepare for the polls?’’ TPCC chief N Uttam Kumar Reddy said.

Although the BJP was preparing to take on the TRS, it too could not keep up with the pace of TRS’ full-throttled campaign. While Chief Minister K Chandrashekara Rao kept himself out of the campaigning, his son K T Rama Rao, a minister, led the planning and campaigned for the candidates. The CM also put the responsibility on the ministers and district in-charges to ensure that the TRS candidates win. ``If TRS does not perform well or if we lose in certain pockets, then heads of ministers and senior district leaders will roll,’’ a party leader said. TPCC Treasurer Gudur Narayana Reddy alleged that Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao did not campaign for his party in municipal elections as he had no guts to face the common people due to the long list of unfulfilled promises.

"KCR did not skip the campaign by choice. But he had to 'abscond' to avoid people's wrath for his failures," Narayana Reddy said.

The BJP is expecting to fill in the gap left by an unprepared Congress. The BJP had initiated a door-to-door to campaign long before the municipal polls were announced. The party made a strong pitch to people to give them a chance at local governance, promising better delivery of central government schemes and services, the ch of cleanliness campaigns and improve civic infrastructure in the towns and villages etc.

The state BJP came out with a ``chargesheet’’ against the ruling TRS accusing it of neglecting urban local bodies and not giving them enough funds. ``Due to lack of funds, municipalities and urban bodies have not been able to maintain cleanliness and sanitation. Due to this, people in Telangana are prone to viral fevers. There is a shortage of staff across the state. The Telangana high court has also pulled up the government for this. The TRS has not been able to fulfill any of its promises like providing safe drinking water and improving civic infrastructure,’’ BJP state chief K Laxman told The Indian Express. Although, the BJP won four Lok Sabha seats in the May 2019 elections including Karimnagar, Adilabad, Nizamabad and Secunderabad, BJP leaders say it may find it difficult to translate that into votes in the local polls. Polls in the 60 wards in Karimnagar Municipal Corporation would be held separately on January 25 on the directions of the court.

Polling would be held in 3,052 wards in 129 civic bodies including 2,727 wards in 120 municipalities and 325 wards in nine municipal corporations in the State. A total 12,898 candidates from 129 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are contesting.

TRS: 2972 candidates

BJP: 2069 candidates

Congress: 2610 candidates