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Greater Hyderabad polls: Cong eyeing tie-up with Praja Rajyam

Mohammed Siddique | November 01, 2009 20:18 IST

Indicating a major change in the political alignments in Andhra Pradesh, the ruling Congress and the regional Praja Rajyam Party of Telugu film star Chiranjeevi [Images] were mulling the idea of a tie-up for the coming elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.

The state Congress president D Srinivas on Sunday confirmed that the idea was under consideration and the PRP President Chiranjeevi had spoken to him over phone on the issue. Chiranjeevi's phone call came a day after another senior PRP leader Allu Arvind met Srinivas to discuss the issue of alliance.

The alliance has become crucial for Congress as its old ally in Hyderabad -- Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen -- has decided not to have any tie-up with the Congress this time around, and will contest all the 150 seats of GHMC on its own. MIM is a decisive power in the state capital and had won seven assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat in May last.

Srinivas, who held a strategy session with the other senior party leaders to gear up for the municipal elections, said that even the Congress high command was also in favour of an alliance with the PRP, keeping the long-term benefits in view. However, many other leaders, including the Greater Hyderabad Congress president D Nagendar and Member of Parliament L Rajagopal, have come out openly against the idea of an alliance with the PRP.

Nagendar said that the Congress party was capable of winning the GHMC elections on its own. "If we enter into any alliance, it will harm the Congress party," he said.

Nagendar, also known to be a loyalist of late CM YS Rajashekhara Reddy, said that if YSR was alive, the question of tie-up with PRP would not have arisen.

Sources both in the Congress and PRP said that both the sides have in principle agreed to have a tie-up, but seat sharing will take more time and discussions. The sources said that while PRP was demanding at least 50 seats in GHMC and the post of the deputy mayor, Congress was willing to leave only 25 seats to PRP.

PRP had mainly fought the Congress party in assembly and Lok Sabha elections and polled about 15% votes and 18 assembly seats while drawing a blank in Lok Sabha seats. But Congress could win many more assembly seats, thanks to PRP dividing the anti-Congress votes.

Meanwhile, the MIM president and member of Lok Sabha from Hyderabad Asaduddin Owaisi [Images], who was busy in choosing the party candidates, expressed confidence that MIM would secure a majority in GHMC on its own. MIM has a record of getting the control of Hyderabad municipal corporation whenever the elections were held in the past. But it lost the post of Mayor to the Congress when direct elections for held for the post.

This time multi-cornrered contests were looking imminent for all the seats of GHMC as the Telugu Desam Party (along with left), Bharatiya Janata Party [Images] and Lok Satta will also be fielding their candidates. But the Telangana [Images] Rashtra Samiti has decided not to contest the elections and concentrate on its fight for a separate Telangana state.

The GHMC polls will also be the first acid test for the Chief Minister K Rosaiah [Images] who took the reigns of power after the death of YS Rajasekhara Reddy [Images]. If Congress fails to do better in these polls, it will only embolden the supporters of YS Jaganmohan Reddy [Images] who are trying to oust Rosaiah from power and make Jagan the Chief Minister.

GHMC, with an annual budget of more than Rs 2500 crore and being the state capital, has a lot of significance for all the major political parties. With 10 to 15% of the state's total electorate residing in the GHMC area, the outcome of the poll could also be seen as an indication of the prevailing mood among the people in the state.

While traditionally MIM had dominated the erstwhile Municipal Corporation, where Muslims almost had fifty percent of vote share, the much enlarged Greater Hyderabad, after the merger of nine surrounding municipalities and rural pockets, has undergone significant demographic change and repeating the past performance will not be easy for the MIM.

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