Hyderabad: Stakes are high for the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) as it is facing the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections first time after Asaduddin Owaisi's plan to expand the party wings in other parts of the country.
A win in this election is important for the AIMIM to strengthen Asaduddin Owaisi's national aspirations. But, a loss or even a reduced tally would give rise to the claims by rivals that the party which does not enjoy support locally is unfit to represent the Muslim community at the national level.
By all accounts, Asaduddin Owaisi led AIMIM, which is currently sharing power at Hyderabad civic body in alliance with the Congress, is facing the similar challenge that Prime Minister Narenddra Modi and the BJP faced in the recently held Gujarat assembly elections.
The AIMIM, a key player in Hyderabad's politics, had bagged 43 seats in 2009 elections and had shared power with then ruling Congress party. It is contesting 75 seats in the election to be held on February 02.
The AIMIM chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi led the campaign with his younger brother and party leader in Telangana assembly Akbaruddin Owaisi.
As many as 1,333 candidates will fight it out for the 150 divisions of the municipal body. About 75 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.
Meanwhile, leaders of major political parties including central and state ministers criss-crossed the city on Sunday - the final day to campaign for their respective candidates.
All the parties were involved in hectic campaigning and leaders, candidates and workers conducted door to door canvassing.
Central ministers M. Venkaiah Naidu and Prakash Javadekar addressed few elections meetings in the city on the last day, urging people to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party-Telugu Desam Party (BJP-TDP) alliance to ensure real development of the city.
For the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), several ministers led by K. Tarakarama Rao campaigned for the party candidates.
Stakes are also high for TRS as it is making a debut in Hyderabad's municipal polls. It is a major test for the party which was not considered strong in the city with a sizeable population from Andhra Pradesh.
The TRS, which was considered "anti-Andhraites" during the movement for separate Telangana state, tried to reach out to voters from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions settled here.
Tarakarama Rao, who is son of Chief Minster K. Chandrasekhar Rao, has thrown a challenge at the opposition, saying he will quit if the TRS fails to win 100 seats in 150-member body.
The campaigning saw TRS highlighting the welfare and development schemes launched by it during last 18 months. In its manifesto, the party promised to protect the cosmopolitan culture of the city, provide basic amenities and ensure development of Hyderabad as a global city.
The TRS is contesting all 150 seats. The chief minister has indicated that the party may have a post-poll alliance with Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) to capture key posts of mayor and deputy mayor.
This time Congress, the main opposition party in Telangana, is contesting all seats. National general secretary Digvijay Singh, party's Telangana unit president Uttam Kumar Reddy and others campaigned for the party candidates. They claimed that Hyderabad developed during Congress rule.
The GHMC polls are also a major test of strength for the TDP-BJP alliance after its defeat in 2014 general elections in Telangana.
The TDP is contesting 90 seats while the BJP has fielded candidates in remaining 60 divisions.
TDP president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu also campaigned for the alliance during last few days. He sought vote for the alliance to once again develop Hyderabad.
At every public meeting, Naidu recalled how he transformed Hyderabad during his nine year rule as the chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh. He claimed credit for placing the city on world IT map, for developing international airport and numerous institutes of excellence.
Several central ministers including Venkaiah Naidu and Bandaru Dattatreya, who is a member of Lok Sabha from Secunderabad, campaigned for the alliance.