Stage set for municipal polls in Greater Hyderabad

Hyderabad, Feb 1 (IANS) The stage is set for the elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) on Tuesday with over 74 lakh people eligible to exercise their franchise.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the elections to 150-member municipal body.

Polling will be held at 7,802 polling centres between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. A total of 74,23,980 voters including 34,53,910 women will decide the political fortunes of 1,333 candidates.

The state election commission will be webcasting polling activity from 3,200 polling stations. Police will also monitor the polling activity at its command and control centre.

As part of the massive security arrangements, over 40,000 policemen and NCC and NSS volunteers will be deployed in Hyderabad and Cyberabad police commissionerates to ensure peaceful conduct of the elections.

More than 46,000 polling personnel including 1,950 micro observers will be on duty.

GHMC commissioner and special officer B. Janardhan Reddy said all arrangements had been made to ensure free and fair polls. He said voter photo identity card will be compulsory to cast the vote. Those not having the voter identity cards will have to produce driving license, PAN card or other identity cards.

The government has declared a general holiday in GHMC limits. All government offices, educational institutions, shops, commercial establishments and banks will be closed.

District collectors of Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Medak have issued orders in this regard.

Half-day holiday has also been declared for employees of IT/ITES companies to enable them to cast their votes. The labour department issued orders that half day will be treated as paid holiday.

The elections are seen as the first major test of strength for all parties after 2014 elections and also the first after the creation of separate Telangana state.

Ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which has fielded candidates in all divisions, is confident of sweeping the polls and capturing the posts of mayor and deputy mayor with post-poll tie up with its friendly party Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which is contesting over 60 seats.

The main opposition Congress party and the TDP-BJP alliance are the other major contenders of power in the municipal body.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is contesting 90 seats while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded candidates in remaining 60 divisions.

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