GHMC polls: Voters give Politicians the cold shoulder

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Despite the hectic campaigning by politicos especially from the BJP who turned the civic polls into a general elections battle the voters in Hyderabad decided to stay away from polling booths. A poll percentage of only 35.80 was recorded till 5 pm. As many as 74.44 lakh voters were supposed to exercise their franchise.

Top leaders from BJP including Amit Shah, Yogi Adityanath, JP Nadda campaigned for their candidates with the Prime Minister also visiting Hyderabad around the same time. High on its victory in the Dubbakka bypoll the BJP aimed at establishing itself in the capital with a view to gaining big during state elections. While the ruling TRS campaigned extensively to project the development efforts and welfare measures taken up by the party in the past five years, the BJP incited communal prejudices promising to rename Hyderabad as “Bhagyanagar” and removing “Rohingya” Muslims from Hyderabad. The voters did not seem to be moved a bit as they let the day pass without any serious aim to change power at the helm. This has left the BJP and the Congress worried and raised hopes for TRS which looks confident to form the GHMC Council for the second term running. Sources said that the ground reports indicated that the TRS had a clear edge in 75 divisions. TRS leaders spoke of the general political belief that a low voter turnout always favours the incumbent.

Leaders in the BJP camp appeared concerned that their high octane campaign did not yield results with mobilisation of voters. The low voter turnout has put paid their hopes of increasing their seats to 50. Sources estimate 20 to 25 seats to BJP at this time. The Congress fears that the communal campaign of BJP may have swayed voters away from them. Congress hopes to win 10 seats based on their focus on development.

The GHMC poll campaign has however revealed how political parties were preoccupied with contests of power and not concerned with people’s issues who have in turn shown an indifference towards the electoral process. Either the people are just about happy with the ruling party or they are not concerned with who wins as none would bring them the desired change anyway. With every election and every poll the voting percentage has been declining that shows the public’s distrust for politicians.

In GHMC polls people’s silence spoke as they withheld their franchise. Voter anger was also evident in a recent study in the city, where 69% of respondents felt corporators worked only before elections and over 95% demanded a ‘Right to Recall’ of elected representatives. Reports of the Urban Distress and Reforms Study, conducted in the GHMC area in November 2020, explain why a large section of Hyderabad voters stayed away from casting their ballot. Voter turnout has been falling since the past decade in Hyderabad but has never been this low. In 2014, during the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, the voter turnout was 53%. In the 2018 Assembly elections, the voter turnout fell to 50.8%, and in the Lok Sabha election held just six months later in 2019, the voter turnout was 45.5%.

This year flooding also contributed to voters’ anger and frustration with politicians and their indifference towards people’s problems. The ordinary voter has also shown their disinterest in the divisive agenda of political parties. People are aware that religious emotions are whipped up because development promises remain unfulfilled. People want visible development and swift resolution to their civic problems and an end to corruption at the municipal level.

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