Hyderabad, Dec 1 : Only 18.20 per cent voters cast their votes in the elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) till 1 p.m., polling officials said.

The turnout remained dull as few voters turned out to cast their votes, despite appeal by poll authorities, all political parties, NGOs and celebrities to improve the polling percentage.

According to the State Election Commission (SEC) 8.9 per cent polling was recorded in the first four hours. It slightly improved in the subsequent two hours but the total percentage is not likely to be high.

The polling began at 7 a.m. at 9,101 polling stations in all 150 divisions. The process will continue till 6 p.m.

The polling stations in many divisions were almost deserted in the first couple of hours due to chilly weather.

Polling began on a dull note but gathered some momentum later as voters were seen coming out and queuing up at their designated polling stations after 8 a.m.

A total of 74,67,256 people are eligible to cast their votes. They include 38,89,637 men, 35,76,941 women and 678 others.

In 2016 GHMC elections, 45.27 per cent voters had cast their votes. Though the political parties had hoped that the percentage would improve this time, the response by the urban voters appeared to remain cold.

This time, Covid-19 situation is being blamed for the poor turnout, despite the assurance by authorities that they have taken all precautions by following Covid protocol.

The election authorities are conducting the polls through paper ballots instead of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

A total of 1,122 candidates are testing their political fortunes. Ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is confident to retain power while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making a determined bid to wrest the municipal body.

The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which is contesting 51 seats, is confident of retaining 44 seats in its stronghold.

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