Hyderabad, Dec 1 (IANS) Around 30 per cent voters cast their votes in the elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) till 4 p.m. on Tuesday, election officials said.
According to the State Election Commission (SEC), 29.76 per cent electorate cast their votes with two more hours left for the polling process to end.
Like in the previous municipal polls, voter indifference marked GHMC elections this time too with the Covid-19 pandemic and series of holidays further bringing down the turnout.
The turnout remained dull throughout the day as few voters turned up to cast their votes, despite appeal by the poll authorities, all political parties, NGOs and celebrities to improve the polling percentage.
Bagh Amberpet division recorded the highest turnout of 64.82 per cent while the lowest 6.77 per cent polling was seen in Monda Market.
Only 18.20 per cent votes were polled till 1 p.m. with 14 divisions recording less than 5 per cent polling. It was not even 1 per cent in Ameerpet and Reinbazar divisions.
According to the SEC, 8.9 per cent polling was recorded in the first four hours. It slightly improved in the subsequent two hours, but overall the percentage is not likely to be high.
The polling began at 7 a.m. at 9,101 polling stations in all the 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 the 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, including 38,89,637 men, 35,76,941 women and 678 others.
In the 2016 GHMC elections, 45.27 per cent voters had cast their votes. Though the political parties had hoped that the percentage will improve this time, the response by the urban voters remained lukewarm.
This time, the Covid-19 situation is being blamed for the poor turnout, despite the assurance by the authorities that they have taken all precautions by following the Covid-19 protocols.
The election authorities are conducting the polls through paper ballots instead of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
For voters above 80 years of age, physically challenged and those who tested Covid positive after Nobember 1, the authorities offered postal ballot facility. However, some voters above even 90 years of age and physically challenged turned out to cast their votes.
A total of 1,122 candidates are testing their political fortunes. Ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is confident of retaining power, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making a determined bid to wrest the municipal body.
Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which is contesting 51 seats, is confident of retaining 44 seats in its stronghold.
Polling in Old Malakpet ward was stopped after a goof-up in ballot paper was noticed. The SEC announced that re-polling in all the 69 polling stations in the ward will be held on December 3. The symbol of CPI-M was printed as the symbol of CPI, resulting in the postponement of polling.
Counting of votes will be taken up on December 4.