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GHMC polls: A high-stakes battle on the cards

GHMC polls: A high-stakes battle on the cards
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GHMC polls: A high-stakes battle on the cards

Highlights

While the aversion towards the State Election Commissioner is delaying holding of local body polls in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, which saw a high decibel campaign in the just concluded Dubbaka by-election has seen it entering GHMC limits as the stage is set for Baldia

While the aversion towards the State Election Commissioner is delaying holding of local body polls in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, which saw a high decibel campaign in the just concluded Dubbaka by-election has seen it entering GHMC limits as the stage is set for Baldia.

The GHMC 2020 election is going to be crucial for both the ruling TRS and the BJP which wants to emerge as the number two party. In fact, both are seeing this election as a trailer for the next general election which may be held towards end of 2022 or early 2023. The big question hence is 'Baldia Bali Kaun'?

If the TRS can manage to retain its present strength of 99 it will be a morale booster for the cadre which was little dejected with the outcome of Dubbaka bypoll. Retaining its present strength will also be a shot in the arm for the pink party and it can take a much harsher stand against the BJP claiming that people have once again voted for Bangaru Telangana.

But the most disturbing factor even before the campaign has been formally launched is that both are claiming that the fight is between "nationalists and anti-nationalists." The language from both sides is becoming harsher day by day.

The Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao wanted the party men to go to people and ask if they want development and peaceful Hyderabad or a city where there would be stabbings, curfew and frequent trouble.

Calling the BJP a Hindutva Party he hinted that if they are given a chance in Baldia, they would create communal trouble which would affect the brand image of Hyderabad. On the contrary, if it is Car Hamara, Sarkar Hamara and Mayor Hamara there will be peace and development.

"During pandemic it was TRS which went into containment zones and told them we are there, gave cash dole, rice and even took care of migrant labour while the "so called leaders of opposition were hiding in their houses," is one of the jibes TRS is making against BJP.

Calling the saffron party as anti-farmer and responsible for slowdown in economy and taking steps to privatise public sector undertakings (though they do not have much to do with city-related issues), the Chief Minister even said that "God knows where the chaiwala has gone. The same man who claimed that he sold tea in a railway station is selling Railways today".

Not just this, KCR also announced that he would convene a conclave of non-Congress parties to muster support to take on BJP sometime during second week of December. "It is our responsibility to take the lead to fight against BJP. I will bring all non-BJP parties onto a single platform," KCR thundered at the party meeting.

In another strategic move, the TRS has given over 50 percent of the seats to BCs and 17 seats to minorities. It has given three seats to STs as against two reserved seats and 13 to Dalits as against 10 reserved seats. TRS just does not speak of social justice but practices it. It is the only party which gave prominent place for women and has decided to have a woman mayor as well, the party rank and file have been told to go door- to- door and tell the people.

The party this time is taking extra measures to douse the possible internal dissent from among those who could not get tickets. The party working president KTR asked the candidates to go to the houses of aspirants who could not make it and seek their cooperation in the election and assure them that they would take the responsibility to see that those who could not make it would get due recognition by the party. All this had become necessary as there is lot at stake and if its number goes down, it could have repercussions in the 2023 Assembly polls.

The political war has already taken a fierce turn. The BJP which has released an official list of 128 candidates is continuing its aggressive attitude and has even gone to the extent of calling the TRS and Chief Minister as traitor. They also alleged that the AIMIM had links with terrorists and the TRS was having alliance with them.

The saffron party is also going to people promising to give Rs 20,000 as against Rs 10,000 being offered by TRS government as immediate relief to those who lost their belongings during the recent floods. Not just that, those whose cars and furniture were damaged will get car and furniture, they said.

Both sides have activated their social media wings and war rooms have been opened to work out poll strategies. The high decibel campaign for the 10-member TRS star campaigners will be led by KCR. The party working president KTR will be hitting the roads from Sunday. The BJP has named State president Bandi Sanjay, Union Minister G Kishan Reddy, MP D Arvind, K Laxman, D K Aruna, P Muralidhar Rao, G Vivek, Raja Singh and Raghunandan Rao as the star campaigners.

The Congress team will be led by PCC chief Uttam Kumar Reddy, CLP leader Bhatti Vikramarka, Mohammed Shabbir Ali, A Revanth Reddy, Mohammad Azharuddin and Ponnam Prabhakar.

On the other hand, all parties are creating temporary job opportunities for unemployed youth by hiring them for poll campaign. They are being offered Rs 1000 per day and accommodation.

One thing is clear both the TRS and BJP want to establish the TINA factor (There is no alternative). The BJP which is known for coming up with catchy slogans has also coined a new word BITA (BJP is the Alternative). It now remains to be seen to what extent this strategy would work.

The saffron party feels that this narrative had helped them in managing caste configuration in Lok Sabha elections and hopes that it will help them in encashing the anti-incumbency votes.

Analysts feel that another major advantage the TRS may have is the division of anti-incumbency votes since TDP has fielded 90 candidates. If such small or we may say non-existent parties are not there in the battle for Baldia, the anti-TRS votes would go to BJP en masse. But with these players in middle, there would be division in such votes and the TRS can breathe easy.

The TRS knows well that the in the last four years things have changed. The BJP has of late gone aggressive. It has been able to increase its MP count to four and has won the Dubbaka by-poll which was like rising from ashes as it had lost deposit in the previous elections. There is considerable change in political tone from both sides.

Hence the TRS has adopted a two-pronged strategy. One take on the BJP and second to bank heavily on the welfare schemes and infrastructure development.

The situation this time for sure is not a cake walk for TRS though BJP may not succeed in getting the Mayor's seat. The speculations are that the saffron party may bag about 25 seats while the TRS may have to remain contained with the magic figure of 75 or so.

The immediate target of the BJP is to show that it is on the rise politically in the State by winning respectable number of seats in GHMC and focus on Warangal and Khammam municipal corporations. These elections are being seen as warm- up exercise for the next Assembly elections.

While the BJP is the common enemy for TRS and Congress, the BJP wants to further marginalise the Congress party. The GHMC elections are going to become an interesting triangle love and hate story. Denizens should get ready to bear the tongue lashing by all leaders big and small. If the statements being made by TRS and BJP leaders are any indication, decency is likely to be the biggest victim.

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