Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Telangana poll body gears up for Hyd civic polls under Covid shadow

  • IANS | 1 month ago
Hyderabad, Sep 23 : The Telangana State Election Commission is gearing up to conduct elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) as the term of the elected body ends early next year.

As the polls are likely to be held under the shadow of Covid-19 pandemic, the poll body is planning special measures to ensure smooth conduct of the entire process.

After taking charge as State Election Commissioner a few days ago, C. Parthasarathi began discussions with the officials to finalise the poll preparations.

With the pandemic posing numerous challenges, the State Election Commission (SEC) is trying to ensure fool-proof arrangements, and will be following the guidelines issued by the Election Commission for conducting the elections during the pandemic.

The SEC has sought the opinion of political parties on whether to use ballot papers or electronic voting machines (EVMs) keeping in view the pandemic.

Commission Secretary M. Jayasimha Reddy wrote a letter to the Presidents and Secretaries of political parties registered with the SEC, requesting them to send their suggestions to the Commission on or before September 30.

The state poll panel has already decided to fix a voter strength of 800 per polling station to ensure physical distancing norms. The number of polling stations will have to be increased.

As the term of the present elected body of the GHMC is expiring on February 10, 2021, the elections are likely to be held in December-January.

This will be the second election to the 150-member GHMC after the formation of Telangana state in 2014.

As part of the poll preparations, GHMC officials will be trained to acquaint them with software applications in the application, developed by the Centre for Good Governance (CGG) for preparation and publication of electoral rolls, randomisation of polling and counting personnel and election process etc.

For expeditious, error-free and transparent election processes, the SEC is aiming to use maximum technology with the help of the CGG. This may include use of face recognition software to update electoral rolls.

Considering the fact that in every election the state capital registered low voter turnout, the SEC will be focusing on improving the poll percentage.

In the 2016 GHMC polls, only 45.29 per cent voters cast their votes. The turnout dropped further in the 2018 Assembly elections and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Analysts say with the polls likely to be held under the shadow of Covid, the SEC will be facing a daunting task in improving the poll percentage. It is planning to involve NGOs for intensive voters' awareness campaigns.

The ensuing elections will be the third since the GHMC was created by merging surrounding municipalities with the then Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad.

The Congress and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) shared the power in the first GHMC with 52 and 43 seats, respectively.

In 2016, the ruling TRS scored a landslide victory winning 99 seats in 150-member body.

It had washed away the main opposition Congress and the Telugu Desam Party-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP-TDP) alliance, with both reduced to single digits.

The AIMIM withstood the TRS wave in its stronghold of the old city to emerge as the second largest party with 44 seats. However, the massive mandate for TRS deprived it of the kingmaker's role, which it historically enjoyed in the municipal body.

Telangana poll body gears up for Hyd civic polls under Covid shadow

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