Tomorrow's poll for Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) is akin to electing a mini-Assembly. Nearly 57 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to elect corporators for 150 divisions spread over five Lok Sabha constituencies and 24 Assembly constituencies in the districts of Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and a little bit of Medak.
GHMC was formed two and a half years ago, incorporating the neighbouring municipalities into the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad with a geographical jurisdiction of 621.48 sq.km.
Coming within six months of general elections where the Congress regained power and tragic death of Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a chopper crash, the civic polls have assumed importance. Interestingly, it will be only the sixth election for the civic body formed in 1960. For several years it was the reign of Special Officers and polls were held in 1960, 1964, 1968, 1986 & 2002, the last two when Telugu Desam was in power.
Even now, polls perhaps might not have been held, if not for the State Election Commission (SEC).
The Rosaiah government's reluctance to bite the bullet is obvious, considering the fast changing political equations. A lacklustre campaign devoid of proper cohesion was apparent in the party campaign, or to effectively counter the series of issues raised by TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu who toured the city extensively.
That was till YSR's son Y. Jaganmohan Reddy finally came out to campaign in the last two days, firing all cylinders, perking up the cadre in the areas where he toured. Chiranjeevi too pulled in the crowds. Lok Satta's Jayaprakash Narayana and BJP's top leaders like Bandaru Dattatreya and others too hit the road.
Heightened interest will be on how the ruling party fares. Will Telugu Desam take advantage of the disarray in Congress ranks?
Will Lok Satta and Praja Rajyam emerge on their right? Will Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen be able to retain its grip on the old city? Will Bharatiya Janata Party regain its hold in its strongholds? Indirect elections to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor took the sting out of the poll somewhat and with both MIM and Congress have an upper hand having most of the near 48-odd ex-officio members like MPs, MLAs and MLCs on their side (they can vote). In any case, whoever comes to power will be facing an empty treasury unlike the last council and face the challenging task of improving the capital's civic infrastructure and thereby, living standards.