HYDERABAD: A large number of voters in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections have already left for their native places within the state and outside. Voters have preferred to take advantage of the long weekend commencing Friday evening, Saturday, Sunday, Guru Nanak Jayanti holiday on Monday and Tuesday’s closure on account of voting in the 150 wards of GHMC.
Citing low voter turnout during GHMC polls in 2016 and repeat of the story in subsequent Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, the State Election Commission (SEC), civic body and the state government wanted a better voter turnout on December 1, the polling day. They made hectic efforts to create awareness about voting in these crucial elections. Overall, they will be spending over Rs. 100 crore.
According to officials records, during 2016 Hyderabad corporation elections, overall poll percentage was 45.29. Of the total 74,24,096 electors then, only 33,62,688 cast their vote. Similarly, a poor percentage of polling was recorded in the 2014 general elections as well as assembly elections held in 2018. In general elections to Lok Sabha and assembly elections held in 2014, the voting percentage was about 53 percent. In the 2018 Assembly polls, this dropped to 50.86 percent in Hyderabad district. In Lok Sabha elections held in April last year, Hyderabad constituency recorded a mere 44.75 per cent while it was 46.26 per cent in Secunderabad. The overall turnout in Hyderabad district comprising these two constituencies was 45.51 per cent.
Despite such low percentage, SEC, along with GHMC has allocated Rs 60,000 per polling station, which includes expenses related to travel and dearness allowance for officials, food, barricading, wheelchairs, ramps, erection of flexies and hoardings for guiding voters to polling booths, apart from costs related to providing face masks, hand gloves and sanitisers to polling personnel because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
A total 74,67,256 voters are eligible to vote in the 2020 civic body elections at 9,101 polling stations spread over 2,927 locations. 36,404 polling personnel are being deployed.
A senior official, who is on election duty, on condition of anonymity, said ever since the GHMC notification, poll personnel have hardly slept for holding hassle-free polls. “However, we are disappointed to know that most of the youth and techies have already left the city to enjoy a long weekend. We would be spending Rs. 54.6 crore on the polling day and another Rs. 13.65 crore on counting of votes. Overall, the expenditure will be more than Rs. 100 crore, which includes raising awareness programmes and educating voters. We are appealing to at least the remaining voters that they participate in large numbers and elect corporators of their choice", the official underlined.
GHMC has clarified that no face masks will be provided to voters on the polling day. It is the electors’ responsibility to wear one if they want to vote. However, sanitisers will be provided and social distancing norms will be ensured.