The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi emerged as the single-largest party, winning 56 of the 146 seats, whose results have been declared so far, in the closely fought Hyderabad municipal elections, reported The News Minute. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party stole the show, making huge gains to bag 46 seats, following a strong campaign that saw several Union ministers visiting the city in the run up to the polls. A total of 150 seats are in fray.

Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen is currently third with 42 seats, while the Congress won only two so far.

Telangana minister KT Rama Rao thanked the people of Hyderabad for voting his party to victory in the highest number of seats, reported ANI. He, however, said that the results were “not what they expected”. “We lost about 10-12 divisions with extremely narrow margin,” he added.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted expressing gratitude to the people of Telangana for “reposing faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

Meanwhile, Minister of State (Home) G Kishan Reddy said the results indicate that the saffron party has the “blessings of the people” to bring a BJP government in the state in 2023, reported The News Minute.

“TRS had 99 seats in Hyderabad, this has come down to 55 now,” Reddy said. “We had four seats and we have won 50 as of now. The number of seats of AIMIM has also gone down...BJP has today emerged as a strong party.”

Former Hyderabad Mayor and AIMIM candidate Mohammad Majid Hussain, meanwhile, won from Mehdipatnam, according to The Hindu. Speaking to reporters outside the counting centre, Hussain credited his victory to Owaisi. He said the work done by him during the last term ensured his smooth victory.

The majority math

With 150 seats in the fray, none of the parties have been able to reach the halfway mark of 76, required for a majority. According to The News Minute, the votes of 52 ex-officio members will also be considered for the election of the mayor of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.

However, seven of them are ineligible to vote as they exercised their vote in another corporation or council which fell under their jurisdiction. Of the remaining 45 members, 31 belong to the TRS, followed by the AIMIM at 10, BJP at three and Congress at one.

With 150 elected members and 45 ex-officio members, the total strength of the municipal corporation would be considered 195. For a party to win with a simple majority, it needs 98 votes. The TRS can come the closest with a maximum of 87 votes (56 elected members and 31 ex-officio members). Thus, it will have to look to forge an alliance with another party.

Communally charged campaign

Despite the high-pitched campaign by nearly all parties, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation polls reported an unimpressive 46.55% turnout on Tuesday with 34.50 lakh people voting from a total of 74.67 lakh voters.

Even though the polls are for electing a city mayor, the intense campaign witnessed comments on Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, surgical strikes, allegations of Rohingya infiltrators and one focused on Hindu-Muslim narrative. “Once a BJP candidate wins the mayor post in these elections, there will be a surgical strike on patha basti [Old City],” Telangana unit chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar had said. “It’s the BJP’s responsibility to kick out these Rohingyas and filthy sons of Pakistan.”

In his speeches, BJP’s Tejasvi Surya, the Bangalore South MP, had also made several controversial remarks while taking on the Opposition. He had accused Owaisi of speaking Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s language of “rabid Islamism, separatism, and extremism”, and claimed that every vote for the Muslim leader was a vote against India and “everything India stands for”.

Political observers said the acrimonious campaign is not new to the city’s political landscape, but it still escalated to a new and dangerous level this time. The BJP had brought in several heavyweights, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party chief JP Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, for campaigning.

In the last municipal elections in February 2016, the TRS had won 99 seats, while the AIMIM secured 44. The BJP won four, the Congress got two and the Telugu Desam Party managed to get just one.

A loss in the elections could dent the image of the TRS and bolster the Opposition to step up its campaign against the ruling party.