Hyderabad, Nov 25 : Municipal elections in any city are all about civic problems with parties seeking votes on promise to improve drinking water supply, sewerage system, sanitation, roads and other amenities but what is being seen in Hyderabad is perhaps unprecedented.
With over 74 lakh voters in the fastest growing metropolis in the country, the polls should have been about the basic day to day problems faced by people or what the parties have to offer to control floods in future after the kind of havoc witnessed last month.
Instead, the campaign for December 1 elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) appears to be all about alleged illegal immigrants in the city, surgical strikes, Jinnah, beef biryani and other controversies.
With just four days left for the campaigning to end for elections to 150-member civic body, the electioneering is becoming shriller by the day with leaders of the main contesting parties indulging in a no-holds-barred war of words.
Being held close on the heels of by-elections to Dubbak Assembly seat, the battle for GHMC has turned high-octane with the major parties going all out to capture power in the Telangana capital.
After losing Dubbak to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with a narrow margin, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is fighting a tough battle to retain GHMC while the saffron party has upped the ante for the polls, which it considers as semifinal before 2023 Assembly elections.
It is not just allegations and counter-allegations between the BJP and TRS which have generated much heat in the campaign.The presence of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) as a major political force in Hyderabad politics has made the battle fierce.
With morale being high among BJP cadres following the victory in Dubbak, the party is taking both on TRS and AIMIM.Political analysts say the BJP is moving with a strategy to make huge inroads to cement its position in Telangana.
While the TRS is trying to check the saffron surge with the allegation that the BJP is creating communal tensions in the city to undo all the developments achieved during the last six-and-half years of TRS rule, BJP leaders are targeting ruling party for being hand-in-glove with AIMIM.
Aiming to cash in on the polarisation, BJP leaders went full throttle to attack AIMIM terming it as party of ‘anti-nationals’.
The party brought its rabble-rouser Tejasvi Surya, who compared AIMIM chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi to founder of Pakistan Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
The BJP youth wing leader blamed Asaduddin Owaisi and his brother Akbaruddin Owaisi for bringing Rohingyas to Hyderabad.
Not stopping at that, he even remarked that a vote for MIM will be a vote against India and everything that India stands for.
With MIM too upbeat over its good show in Bihar, where it won five Assembly seats, BJP leaders are apparently focusing on GHMC to take on the party on its turf.“A vote to Owaisi in Hyderabad would make him strong in Maharashtra, Bihar and Muslim localities in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.We must defeat him.We will not let this Islamisation happen,” said Suya, who is a member of Parliament from Bengaluru.
Going a step further, BJP’s state chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar claimed that illegal immigrants including Rohingyas, Pakistanis and even Afghans are voters in Hyderabad.“If BJP wins GHMC polls and we have our mayor, surgical strikes will be carried out in the old city to drive out Pakistanis,” he said in remarks which evoked strong condemnation from all other parties.TRS working president K.T.Rama Rao even called him ‘insane’.
Hitting back at the BJP, Asaduddin Owaisi dared it to conduct a surgical strike on the Chinese Army, which he said is sitting on 920 square kilometer of Indian territory.“If there are illegal immigrants in the old city what was home minister Amit Shah doing? Was he sleeping?” he asked.
Alleging that BJP leaders are frustrated, Owaisi told an election rally that they should be treated with ‘biryani’ from Alhamdulillah hotel.Since the hotel serves only beef biryani, BJP leaders took offence to Owaisi’s comments.
After Surya it was central minister Smriti Irani who kept the pot boiling with the allegation that the unholy alliance of the TRS and the MIM enlisted Rohingyas as voters for political gains.
With several BJP bigwigs making a beeline to Hyderabad and TRS and MIM leaders stepping up their attack, the campaign may only get murkier by the day.