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The GHMC bells ring

The GHMC bells ring
Highlights

The High Court putting an end to the protracted political row over the squeezing of the period of elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) paved the way for the announcement of the poll schedule on Friday. 

The High Court putting an end to the protracted political row over the squeezing of the period of elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) paved the way for the announcement of the poll schedule on Friday.

Normally, reduction in the period of elections or campaigning should have been welcomed by those who want to reform the electoral system as it would reduce the election expenditure.

The Chief Minister cited the reason of engaging one lakh government employees to man elections. Reducing the period of elections would benefit the people as it would engage the official machinery for a lesser period. But, the concrete situation in which the government tried to slash the election period gave rise to many uncomfortable questions. The explicit reasons given for the government action do not match with the hidden political intent.

As the court itself pointed out, an act of legislature cannot be amended by an executive order. But, the more questionable aspect is the political strategy behind such a move. The ruling party has resorted to this to disarm the opposition by denying them a level-playing field.

Thanks to the judicial intervention, the opposition could heave a sigh of relief. However, the ruling TRS has left no stone unturned to enjoy unilateral advantage. The reservations for divisions were announced only with the notification of the poll schedule. What prevented the government from finalising the reservations early?

In case the reservations are known in advance, the opposition parties would have prepared well to face the polls. Here again, the ruling party is at an advantage as it is privy to information about reservation even if the official announcement was made only now.

Through series of political and administrative maneuvers, the ruling party is way ahead of the divided opposition in the campaign trail. The government announced a number of measures like waiver of arrears, relief in property tax, power tariff etc., on the election eve.

These may not technically constitute a violation of the code of conduct, as the poll schedule was not set in motion by then. Unhesitatingly, the TRS is making a frantic bid to appropriate the credit for the development initiated by earlier governments, too. It’s a fact that the Godavari drinking water scheme and Metro Rail were initiated by the previous Congress regime.

Though, the Congress deserves criticism for inordinately delaying Godavari scheme, it cannot be deprived of the credit for launching the scheme. In fact, the TRS while in opposition was responsible for Metro hitting the road blocks. But, now the TRS claims credit for completing the same Metro without even changing the alignments which it had demanded in the past.

The unabashed manner in which the ruling party is taking an undue advantage is evident from the fact that the Chief Minister himself openly acknowledged this when he said: “We are not an Ahobilam Matham. We will take advantage. We are in government.”

The TRS is not the first ruling party to do so. The opposition which is now crying foul did and continued to do so when in power. But, the Indian electoral law calls for not just free, but fair elections also.

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