Hyderabad civic polls: Low turnout after blistering campaign

Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, TRS working president KT Rama Rao, Hyderabad civic polls,

An electoral official sprays sanitiser on the hand of a voter as she waits in a queue to cast her ballot. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP)

After a blistering campaign lasting less than two weeks Hyderabad civic poll turned out to be a dampener, recording the lowest ever turn out as urban voters chose to stay away from polling booths amidst the pandemic. By 5 p.m. the polling percentage was only 35.8 per cent and with only an hour of polling left it is unlikely to cross even 50 per cent. The last hour of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) was reserved mostly for COVID-19 patients by the state election commission.

The campaign narrative based on national issues for a municipal poll evidently failed to impress the electorate and with a large number of IT professionals and other migrants leaving the city for their native places due to work from home policy, the voter turnout was embarrassingly low. However, suburban areas like LB Nagar, Uppal and Amberpet which are under Opposition MPs saw comparatively higher polling percentage. These were also among the worst flood-hit and likely to witness some anti-incumbency voting while Ramachandrapuram and Patancheru in adjoining Sangareddy district which registered highest polling percentage of more than 55 and 53 per cent respectively, might see a sway towards the ruling party. Langar Houz in old city area recorded one of the lowest polling percentage, just over 6 per cent.

While the pandemic kept away a large section of senior citizens and middle class voters voting was done through ballot boxes which might have led to apprehension, though the commission had arranged for sanitisers spots and ensured social distancing. Voting took place in 149 of the 150 words after a repoll was ordered at old Malakpet. Instead of ears of corn and sickle, the symbol of CPI candidate the ballot paper carried the symbol of hammer, sickle and star belonging to CPI-M. Repoll will be held on 3 December and the returning officer has been removed.


The state election commission had roped in celebrities to appeal to voters to come and out and although actors like Chiranjeevi and Vijay Devarakonda came out to cast their vote, the public chose to stay away. Even TRS working president KT Rama Rao had left recorded messages urging them to come out to vote. Mr Rao was one of the early voters along with his wife and so was AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi who chose to ride his bike to the polling booth at Shastripuram.

Incidentally, roadshows by both Union home minister Amit Shah and TRS working president KT Rama Rao had drawn huge crowds but it is evident from the low turnout that majority of the crowds had been organised, mostly from the districts. In fact, the apathy and indifference of the urban voters can be gauged from the fact before the election commission had intervened the Mee Seva Kendras which deliver citizen centric services of the government had seen huge crowds as people thronged the centres to register their names and bank account details to claim the flood relief of Rs 10,000.

BJP blamed the TRS government and SEC for the low turnout. Union minister G Kishen Reddy alleged that after the Dubbaka defeat TRS was apprehensive about GHMC poll results and hence advanced the election dates and people hesitated to vote due to apprehensions of second wave of Covid-19. Moreover, chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao harped on communal riots creating a fear psychosis.