Backed by a high-octane campaign involving its top guns, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday made significant electoral inroads in Hyderabad in the fiercely contested GHMC polls, almost giving a scare to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti, which just managed to retain control of the civic body it won four years ago.
BJP's resurgent performance prompted the state leadership to describe it as a 'saffron strike', while party in-charge Bhupendar Yadav said it has now emerged as the 'only alternative' to the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led regional dispensation with people accepting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's brand of good governance.
Out of the 150 wards in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) that went to the polls on December 1, the results of 146 wards were available till reports last came, where TRS won 56, while the BJP bagged 46, followed by All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (42) and the Congress, which has so far managed to win two seats.
The Telangana Rashtra Samiti admitted the results were not on expected lines, but its Working President K T Rama Rao said there was nothing to feel disappointed about it.
He thanked the people for making TRS the single largest party.
The BJP emerged as the principal challenger to the TRS though the state's ruling party was still ahead of its rivals, and the saffron surge could bring its cadre the much needed morale booster ahead of the 2023 Assembly polls.
From four wards in the 2016 GHMC polls as an ally of the Telugu Desam Party, the saffron party has managed a ten time jump all alone.
Upbeat over the party's impressive performance in the Hyderabad civic poll, BJP state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar said it was a 'saffron strike' in which the electorate reposed faith in the BJP and voted against the ruling TRS.
Today's good show follows the surprise defeat handed by BJP to the TRS in the recent Dubbak Assembly bypoll.
Aiming for a win in the GHMC polls to boost its chances in the Assembly elections in 2023, the BJP had deployed top leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party president J P Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to seek votes for the party candidates.
The BJP's performance has confirmed the trend that it is replacing the Congress as the main challenger to the TRS, Yadav said in Delhi.
The saffron party had won four seats in the state in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as well.
"The results are very encouraging and a morale booster for the BJP, and in a way, it is a moral victory of the party. The results reaffirms that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership and his model of good governance have acceptability across regions," Yadav, who was deputed as in-charge for the local elections in Hyderabad, told PTI.
The GHMC elections would be an unpleasant experience for the ruling TRS as it had swept the last city polls in 2016, winning 99 out of the 150 wards.
The TRS now has to deal with a resurgent BJP, which improved its strength substantially.
Rama Rao, son of Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, said the party's performance will be discussed in internal forum.
He said TRS lost several wards by extremely low margins.
"However, there is nothing to feel disappointed about," he added.
The GHMC election results came as a rude shock to the Congress as it won only two wards. State Congress president and MP N Uttam Kumar Reddy announced that he has submitted his resignation from the post of Pradesh Congress Committee president.
Reddy added he has requested the AICC to take up the process of selection of a new president of state Congress.
The Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM came up with a strong performance in its traditional bastion of the old city of Hyderabad.