All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Friday dismissed claims of a “BJP storm” after the Bharatiya Janata Party emerged the second-largest party, with 48 seats, in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation polls, the Hindustan Times reported. Owaisi said his party would continue to fight the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“Where is the storm?” asked Owaisi. “Had there been a storm, BJP wouldn’t have lost in Maharashtra MLC [Legislative Council] election. BJP had said they would conduct surgical strike in old city. But they couldn’t do anything in my area. We did democratic strike. We contested in 51 seats and won 44. Think what would have happened had AIMIM contested in 80 seats.”
The AIMIM chief added that his party had contested in 60 seats and won 44 in 2016, making this year’s strike rate better.
Owaisi expressed confidence that the residents of Telangana would stop the BJP from expanding its footprints in the state. Owaisi also seemed to praise the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, calling it a “formidable” political party. “It [TRS] represents the regional sentiment of Telangana,” Owaisi said. “I am sure [Telangana Chief Minister] K Chandrashekar Rao will review the party’s performance in these elections. I am sure he will be a big challenge for the BJP.”
The TRS has the highest number of seats at 55 but could not reach the majority mark in the 150-ward civic body polls. The results of only 149 wards were declared as vote counting was stopped in Neredmet following a High Court order due to some discrepancies in paper ballots.
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 86 votes (55 elected members and 31 ex-officio members). Thus, it will have to look to forge an alliance with another party.
BJP celebrates win calling the city as ‘Bhagyanagar’
Several BJP leaders took to social media to celebrate the party’s performance using the name “Bhagyanagar” for Hyderabad. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, during the campaigning for the polls, had pushed for renaming the city to Bhagyanagar.
“The fate of Bhagyanagar is rising,” tweeted the Uttar Pradesh chief minister. “Thanks to all the people of Bhagyanagar for expressing confidence in the leadership of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Hyderabad civic body polls.”
BJP MP Tejasvi Surya said that “Bhagyanagar” voted for good governance, value-based politics and inclusive development. “It has rejected family owned parties, corrupt administration & anti-Hindu politics,” he tweeted. “Dawn of new era in Telangana. BJP is the future.”
BJP Information Technology Cell head Amit Malviya also thanked the residents of the city for choosing “politics of development over politics of tokenism”. National General Secretary of the BJP BL Santhosh and party leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga were among those who used the name.
Meanwhile, BJP National President Jagat Prakash Nadda, called the poll results a “historic victory”. He said that the people have shown unequivocal support towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development and governance model.
He said the results show not just the outcome in Hyderabad but for the upcoming polls as well. “I can say with confidence that people of Telangana know the time has come to remove the corrupt KCR [K Chandrashekhar Rao] government and the TRS government,” Nadda said.
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.