Hyderabad, Nov 23 : With barely a week to go for elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), campaigning gathered momentum with leaders of major parties hitting the roads to woo voters.
Top leaders of ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) are vying with each other in meetings, rallies, road shows and door-to-door campaigns.
The TRS is much ahead of its rivals in the campaigns with dozens of its leaders including ministers, MPs and state legislators reaching out to voters, seeking a fresh mandate to continue the development and welfare programmes in the state capital.
Elections to 150-member GHMC are scheduled to be held on December 1. Over 74 lakh voters are eligible to cast their votes to elect the new civic body.
The TRS, which had captured power in 2016 with a landslide majority of 99 seats, is confident of retaining power to ensure "uninterrupted growth" in Greater Hyderabad, considered as the economic engine of the state.
Spearheading the campaign is TRS Working President and Industry, Information Technology, Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister K.T. Rama Rao. By addressing series of meetings and road shows every day, he is leading the campaign from the front.
The TRS manifesto, which was released on Monday and promised free drinking water among many sops, provided new push to the ruling party's campaign. "Development is our agenda. We have no other agenda," said Rama Rao at one of the meetings while stepping up attack on the rivals.
With the BJP emerging as the main rival for the TRS, at every rally, KTR, as the minister is popularly known, is calling up on people to decide whether they want a peaceful city marching ahead on the path of development or a city filled with communal tensions and anarchy.
Lending full support to KTR in the campaign is his sister and state Legislative Council member K. Kavitha, who is mounting a scathing attack on the BJP. It is still not clear if their father and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao will campaign in these elections or not.
Addressing a meeting at party headquarters last week and during the release of party manifesto on Monday, KCR set the tone for the campaign.
On the other hand, upbeat over its recent victory in by-election to Dubbak Assembly seat, the BJP is running an aggressive campaign to wrest the key civic body to emerge as the viable alternative to the TRS.
Giving a boost to BJP campaign, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar landed in the city on Sunday. He released the party's charge sheet against the TRS government.
The document lists 60 failures of TRS government during last six years and the plight of Greater Hyderabad under the TRS. It also mentions the unfulfilled promises made by the ruling party in the previous elections.
"People have to decide whether they want a mayor of BJP or AIMIM. Voting for Congress and TRS means voting for AIMIM and voting for AIMIM means voting for division," he said.
A day after Javadekar's visit, BJP Yuva Morcha President Tejasvi Surya arrived in Hyderabad and launched the 'change Hyderabad' programme.
Addressing series of meetings, the MP from Bengaluru lashed out at both the TRS and the AIMIM, describing them as two faces of the same coin.
"People are rejecting dynasty politics. Two parties were sent to permanent quarantine in Kashmir and the same will happen in Telangana," he said.
The BJP, which had won just four seats in 2016, will be looking for major gains in these elections, which the party considers a semi-final before the 2023 Assembly polls.
Leading the party's campaign is Union Minister of State for home G. Kishan Reddy, who represents Secunderabad Lok Sabha constituency. He, along with party's Telangana unit President Bandi Sanjay Kumar, national Vice President D.K. Aruna, BJP OBC Morcha President K. Laxman and other leaders are actively campaigning for the party candidates.
The AIMIM, which had bagged 44 seats in the previous election, is also carrying out an aggressive campaign under the leadership of party President Asaduddin Owaisi.
Like in every election, the Hyderabad MP begins his day with padyatra in the party strongholds. He goes door to door to meet voters to urge them to elect party candidates.
The seven members of Telangana Assembly to AIMIM and other party leaders are also actively participating in the campaign.
Owaisi is also addressing public meetings every evening, promising to continue what his party has been doing to solve the civic problems.
"Unlike other parties, which become active only during elections, AIMIM works throughout the year," says Owaisi, whose party is contesting about 55 seats.
While BJP is alleging a secret understanding between the TRS and the AIMIM, Owaisi claimed that his party has no truck with any party.
The Congress, which is demoralised following its poor performance in Dubbak, is struggling to put up a fight in the GHMC.
The party had won only two seats in 2016 polls. Leading the party campaign is state Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy.
The party is using the services of its senior leaders for the campaign. They claim that it was during Congress rule that Hyderabad saw real development.