The absence of a clear mandate from the voters to any of the political parties in the recently held elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, which evoked attention from across the country as a result of a high-octane campaign, means that even a week after the results there is no clear indication on who will become the Mayor.
The tenure of the outgoing GHMC council ends on February 10, 2021, and the Mayor’s post is reserved for a woman Corporator in the upcoming council.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which won 56 of the 150 divisions, is not in a comfortable position. Despite having 31 of the 45 ex officio members to its credit, in the absence of a clear majority in the house, the party is in no position to secure the Mayor’s chair on its own.
Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which did not suffer any loss in terms of numbers as it managed to retain 44 divisions, is now pushed to third place.
The BJP which put up a spectacular fight to up its numbers from 4 to 48 by dislodging the TRS in many seats, has in a manner paved way for the TRS to seek the support of AIMIM if it wants to elect its Mayor. The TRS and AIMIM were called conjoined twins by the BJP throughout its campaign even as the ruling party maintained AIMIM as its main rival.
On December 4, soon after the results, TRS party working president KT Rama Rao said there was no hurry to decide on the Mayor as the outgoing council would continue for another two months. “We have a lot of time. We will discuss within the party and take a decision,” he had said.
When contacted, TRS leader and GHMC Mayor Bonthu Rammohan reiterated his party’s position. “We don’t have a majority. We are 10 members less even after counting all the ex-officio members. We are discussing the possibilities. We will decide in the first week of February,” he told indianexpress.com.
C Partha Sarathi, the state election commissioner, said a notification for conducting election to the post of the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor will be issued two or three weeks before the end of the term of the present council, and the election will be held after February 10. “Even if the government wants to hold early indirect elections by enabling the SEC through amendments in the GHMC Act, the newly-elected members will not be able to replace the present body till February 10. That is the rule position,” he told indianexpress.com.
He said the SEC is yet to receive the details regarding ex-officio members eligible to vote during the Mayoral elections and the request to initiate the process. “It is just a matter of a few days. An election observer will be appointed when the matter is set in motion. The District Collector will issue notices and one day the special meeting will be held,” he added.
As of date, TRS has 31 ex officio members. The AIMIM, BJP, and Congress have 10, three, and one ex-officio members, respectively. During the special meeting, to elect the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, a 50 per cent quorum is necessary. All 150 newly-elected corporators and 45 ex officio members (who are Lok Sabha MPs, Rajya Sabha MPs, MLAs, and MLCs, who either have their vote in GHMC’s jurisdiction or have opted GHMC as their preferred municipal corporation to cast their vote as an ex officio member) are eligible to participate.
Political commentator Prof K Nageshwar said TRS will certainly have its Mayor but how they do it is to be seen. According to him, TRS may not openly ally with the AIMIM as it may prove politically counterproductive for them with BJP exploiting the scenario. “If some corporators of the AIMIM abstain themselves from voting, the TRS can ensure a quorum and also prove its majority. Or if the AIMIM goes for a direct contest for the Mayor’s post against the TRS, the BJP will be in a spot. Should it be equidistant or should it vote for TRS to defeat AIMIM?”
Speculation is rife following Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s recent meeting with prime minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi. Prof Nageshwar feels BJP may allow a smooth sail for the TRS as KCR, after GHMC election results, has not spoken a word about his proposed ‘Opposition Conclave’ against the BJP.
“We don’t know what transpired in the meetings between KCR and Modi, and Amit Shah. KCR has not spoken till now. He also did not meet the protesting farmers during his visit to Delhi,” said Nageshwar, suggesting that BJP may not create hurdles for the TRS.
In 2016, with a thumping majority of 99 corporators in the 150-member council, the TRS had its way unopposed.
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