GHMC Polling in pandemic times: Politicos worried over low turnout
- In the 2009 and 2016 GHMC polls, the total poll percentage was less than 50%
- As a safety measure, SEC extended poll timing from 7 am to 5 pm to 7 am to 6 pm
- Hourly sanitisation of booths, wearing masks and hand gloves made mandatory
Hyderabad: With polling to the 150 wards of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) to be held on December 1, the political parties are a worried lot that the Covid pandemic may cast a shadow over the poll turnout and scuttle their winning prospects. In the two previous GHMC polls held in 2009 and 2016, the total poll percentage registered was less than 50 per cent. Though the denizens of the twin cities are from educated and employed sections of the society, the total turnout in the GHMC limits in the last election was only 45 per cent and 42.07 per cent in 2009 polls.
For the safety of the voters at the polling booths from the infectious coronavirus, the State Election Commission (SEC) has already announced the increase of poll timing from 7 am to 5 pm to 7 am to 6 pm. In view of an increase of positive cases, the SEC has permitted the voters above 80 years and physically challenged to utilise their franchise through postal ballot.
The political parties, TRS, BJP and Congress were analysing the 2016 polling pattern to prepare strategies to ensure improvement in the turnout and help their candidates to win the elections. The data revealed that only 20 per cent polls were registered in 10 divisions and 21 to 30 per cent in 18 divisions. In 62 divisions the turnout was between 30 to 40 per cent and in another 47 divisions, it was 45 to 50 per cent only. The lowest percent of polling below 20 per cent was registered in Suraram, Rain Bazar, Musrambagh and Ajampura divisions.
To increase the turnout, SEC has been conducting awareness camps by roping in celebrities and noted personalities. Special safety measures like hourly sanitisation of the polling booths, wearing masks and hand gloves has been made mandatory for all the voters
To clinch a big victory in this pandemic situation, the main political parties were struggling hard to keep their supporters intact and mobilise them to the booths to cast their vote. The TRS leadership has already identified the divisions where the party was maintaining strongholds and taking necessary steps for the mobilisation of the voters on the polling day. The BJP is of the strong view that if the polling percentage is less than 50 per cent, the ruling TRS will gain political advantage in the elections.