Signalling its emergence as a dominant force in Telangana, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 46 seats in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls to deny the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) a clear majority.
Though the TRS was heading to retain power in the 150-member municipal body with lead in 70 divisions at around 4 p.m., the scene changed dramatically with BJP racing ahead in divisions where it was locked in neck-and-neck battle with the TRS.
Performing beyond its own expectations and making big inroads in the state capital, the BJP has won 46 seats and was leading in four seats as per the results and trends available till 7 p.m.
TRS, which bagged 53 seats and was leading in two others, emerged as the single largest party but fell short of the majority mark.
It may have to seek the support of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which won 42 seats and was leading in two divisions. The Congress finished a distant fourth with just two seats.
The newly elected corporators and 52 ex-officio members elect the Mayor. Since TRS has majority ex-officio members, it required 65 corporators to have its Mayor. The party may now have to negotiate power sharing agreement with the MIM if the latter doesn’t extend unconditional support. In 2009, when GHMC polls had thrown a similar verdict, the Congress had shared power with the MIM, leaving the post of Mayor to MIM for two years.
The post of Mayor this time has been reserved for woman.
The results have come as a huge shock to the TRS, which had bagged 99 seats in the 2016 polls. The BJP, which had secured only four seats in the previous elections, saw a big jump in its numbers to emerge as the second largest party, a position which MIM was enjoying.
The saffron party made big gains as it fought the polls this time with all the might at its disposal with top Central leaders and Union ministers campaigning for its candidates.
Counting of votes cast in all the 150 divisions began at 8 a.m. at 30 places in the city with Telangana State Election Commission deploying over 8,000 personnel.
The police made elaborate security arrangements in the city in view of the counting. Prohibitory orders and traffic restrictions were imposed around the counting centres.
The police in Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda have imposed a ban on victory rallies for the next 48 hours.
Out of the total 74.67 lakh voters, 46.55 per cent had cast their votes in 149 divisions on Tuesday. There were 1,925 postal ballots.
Polling in one division was stopped due to discrepancy in ballot paper and re-poll was held on Thursday.
A total of 1,122 candidates tested their political fortunes. The bitterly contested elections saw a high-decibel campaign with the participation of several Central ministers and top national leaders of the BJP.
Congress, MIM and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) were among the other major contesting parties.
The campaign saw no holds barred attack by political opponents, while remarks by some leaders created controversies. The promise by the BJP leaders to change the name of Hyderabad to Bhagyanagar if the party is voted to power also sparked a row.