The Seemandhra “settlers” in the city seem to be holding key in deciding the political fortunes of many key players in the ensuing GHMC elections.

It is estimated that in the 10 districts of Telangana State, including Hyderabad, the settlers account on an average 90 lakh of the total population and over 45 percent of them are concentrated within the limits of HMDA spread over in five to six Assembly constituencies out of the 24 constituencies under the GHMC limits.

There is no denial of the fact that the settlers were under the grip of a fear during the thick of the Telangana movement what with the TRS leaders led by TRS party supremo K Chandrassekhar Rao hounded them day in and day out and even threatened to drive them out of Telangana once the new State was formed.

After Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated and the new State of Telangana came into being, the TDP leaders led by party chief Chandrababu Naidu raised the bogey of threat to the lives and properties of the settlers in Hyderabad. Though Telangana Chief Minister KCR and his lieutenants tried to assuage their sentiments by assuring that there would be no threat to the safety of the settlers, the feeling that they are being treated as outsiders in their city continued to haunt the Seemandhra people.

Thus, the million-dollar question is whether the settlers, for whom Hyderabad had virtually become a home away from home, would sail with the TRS, the ruling party in the State, or take a sweet revenge for treating them as second grade citizens.

After the formation of the Telangana State, this is the first time elections to the GHMC are scheduled to take place sometime during the first week of February. There is no doubt that all major political parties — TRS, Congress, TDP, BJP and MIM – are leaving no stone unturned to capture the GHMC, one of the biggest municipal corporations in the country.

The corporation was under the control of the Congress-MIM combine after the elections in 2009. Though the TRS came to power in Telangana State after the 2014 elections, the ruling party managed to win only two Assembly seats in the city. Determined to improve and tighten the party’s hold under GHMC limits, KCR diligently moved his pawns in poaching city MLAs, especially belonging to the TDP. With senior TDP leaders like Talasani Srinivas Yadav, Teegala Krishna Reddy, M. Kishan Reddy and others, TRS now boasts of seven MLAs in its kitty from the city.

The delimitation of wards under the GHMC limits rose from 100 to 150 has become a source of worry to the Opposition parties as they have to now reach out to people in the new areas. There is also criticism that the number of wards in the Assembly constituencies being held by the Opposition parties was deliberately decreased while those under the control of TRS have been increased. The TRS is much ahead than other parties as for as election campaigning is concerned. Though the pink party has a tacit understanding with MIM, for all practical purposes it is entering the election fray on its own. The party has already formulated its own strategies to woo the voters. KCR has entrusted the campaign to his son KTR and daughter Kavitha though other ministers and party legislators were also pressed into electioneering.

Besides launching a blitzkrieg of poster campaign by capturing vital spots all over the city to propagate the achievements of the TRS Government, the party also launched ward by ward meetings where KTR has been busy highlighting the developmental and welfare schemes being implemented by the TRS government. Realizing that the votes of the settlers would play a pivotal role in the elections, KTR and other ministers have been assuring safety and security of these sections and also doling out sops to them. The Opposition parties, especially the Congress and the BJP, are trying to instill a fear among them by raking up the threat perspective to their lives and properties. The TRS also played a masterstroke by admitting into the party fold former TDP minister K. Vijayarama Rao and his daughter, who are bound to influence the settlers in favour of TRS.

While TRS is far ahead than other parties as for as campaigning is concerned, it is also aware that a major voter turnout was also very essential. It is a well known fact that the city voters are too lethargic to cast their franchise. Besides the Telangana sentiment on which TRS had captured power in the State might not work in the metropolis unlike in the rural areas. Hence, the voter turnout also would play a crucial role in tilting the fortunes of the contesting parties.

Though the TRS is more than confident of winning a major chunk of the 150-ward corporation, it might not be a cake walk for the pink party as the BJP-TDP combine and the Congress are determined to give a tough fight in the battle royal besides the MIM pocketing 45 to 50 wards. (NSS).