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Charminar’s Qutub Minar moment

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The final result may not be so, but the contest is certainly down to the wire. The litmus test for the Telangana Chief Minister’s long cherished dream of ruling the city corporation is just around the corner. This time he seems to have played his best cards for the battle of the Hyderabad. It certainly may not be a photo finish but until the EVMs are unlocked on Feb 5th the drama will continue.

In the peak of the Telangana movement amidst a pro-statehood wave the party managed to just win 1 of the 15 seats in the core part of the city while the NDA alliance was victorious in 7 and the MIM held onto its 7 seats. While in the Rangareddy district, which forms part of the GHMC limits the NDA alliance won 8, TRS 4 and Congress 2 seats respectively. TRS dominated other parts of the city that fall into the greater limits such as Medak, Patancheru etc.

In the 2009 elections the TRS chose not to contest the elections and the contest was mainly between the Congress, MIM and the Telugu Desam. The other parties such as BJP, Lok Satta, Left, Prajarajyam and MBT were the others in the fray. The then ruling Congress party won 52 seats, while TDP won 45 and MIM 43 respectively.

As part of the post electoral alliance the Congress and the MIM stitched an agreement for sharing power and ruled the city for the full term with minor hiccups. (MIM withdrew its support to Congress during Kiran Reddy’s rule).

GHMC 2016 election is a completely different game and the winner will be decided by a certain looser the Congress Party. The congress which enjoyed the power from 2009 through 2015 is on a shaky wicket this time and the election reminds us of the Delhi election of 2013 & 2015.

In the Delhi election of 2013, the Congress party with a vote share of 24.7% managed to win just 8 seats and AAP with a better conversion ratio manage to win 28 seats with 29.7% votes. The BJP with 33.3% vote and 31 seats just fell short of the majority. Delhi’s Mango Man Kejriwal rose from the 2014 LS debacle of 7-0 wipe out to a stunning 67 out of 70 seats victory. While the BJP voter nearly retained its voter base but a massive 15% vote swing away from the Congress to the AAP stunned the nation.

Similarly in 2016 GHMC elections the winner will be decided by the Congress party’s performance combined with a host of other critical factors.

Here are the top 5 things that will decide the fate of the election in 2016.

  1. Congress Voter: The traditional congress vote bank has already witnessed a great decline in the 2014 election. If the trend holds on and continues the congress voter is more likely to gravitate towards TRS than any other party as the average congress voter looks at TRS as the new congress party same as the AAP in Delhi. If the traditional congress voter including the minority vote consolidate under the TRS and desert the congress it will be advantage TRS in this election. The Congress party with neither a credible face nor an agenda is in no shape to stop the voter from deserting its ship. Credible local candidates at select places are the only face savers for the party which otherwise looks weak at the moment.
  1. TRS & MIM tacit understanding: TRS understands that it cannot win the city without both the overt and the covert support of the MIM. TRS will strategically and tactically use the MIM support at places to ensure the NDA candidates are at bay. The success of this understanding will decide the magnitude of the victory and even if the NDA puts up a decent show and there is a hung verdict as in 2009, both TRS and MIM are already willing to work with each other. The chemistry is also at test in this election.
  1. BJP + TDP: If the MLC election is any indicator of the educated voter’s preference the combine will continue to dominate the hearts of the middle and upper middle class voter. Unfortunately the BJP and TDP vote bank are nearly the same and the combination can only at best avoid a vote split in their target vote bank, this will be negated by the infighting that is bound to surface with the seat allocation and the candidate selection. The saving grace for the combine is the strong backing of the migrant Seemandhra voter. If the post 2014 Telangana voters of the alliance look to jump the fence the alliance calculations can go for a toss. Both the parties are trying to put up a brave face to display unity but this will be at test.
  1. Wards reshuffling & Reservations: KCR has invested great time and energy in studying each and every ward and has strategically undertaken the division of wards and reservations. He has ensured that the areas of strength of the NDA are identified and nullified by either re-drawing the wards or through reservations.  Great analysis and detail has gone into each ward to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates, winnability and voter composition. Each ward has been touched upon by either reservation or shuffling to ensure the ruling party has the upper hand.
  1. Other Sundries:
  • The voter rolls deletion caused a huge furore with the opposition parties crying foul. If the allegations are even reasonably true the impact of this would be heavily against the NDA. Also the traditional NDA voter is lethargic and the NDA will stand a chance only when the voting percentage crosses 50%. Voting under the 40% will be a huge advantage for the TRS.
  • TRS has been on a spree of poaching the strong leaders from the opposition camp to gain inorganic strength. Their efficacy will be at test and a critical factor.
  • A weakened Loksatta, non-existent Left and the absence of YSRCP will have nearly no impact.
  • While the student suicide may not likely be an issue at the time of voting but cannot be written off as it may cause minor consolidation on either sides.
  • Anti incumbency is almost a non issue as the voters are nearly pre decided based on other factors and it is unlikely that the TRS government or the MIM with a comitted vote bank would have lost any vote since 2014.

Few local surveys are predicting a strong TRS performance, the election results are prestigious for both the NDA which wants to re affirm its strength in the city and the TRS which at any cost wants to make a break through.

On Feb 5th while the NDA and the TRS will be busy analyzing their performances, the Congress party will be busy preparing a report to the high command a “Charminar” version of the Delhi debacle.

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