Kerala set for local bodies polls in October


Thiruvananthapuram : A staggering 21,612 seats are up for grabs in Kerala’s local bodies polls Oct 23 and Oct 25.

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Eyeing these seats are the two main political rivals – the ruling Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), besides the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.

On account of its consistent work at the grassroots, the LDF has always led from the front and in the outgoing local bodies, they have a clear edge over its nearest rival UDF.

The last local bodies polls in 2005 saw all the five corporations in the state going to the LDF. This apart, 11 of the 14 district panchayats, 33 out of 53 municipalities, 114 of the 152 block panchayats and 688 of the 984 gram panchayats are ruled by the LDF.

The spectacular victory by the LDF was repeated the next year at the May 2006 assembly polls when it ousted the UDF from power by winning 98 seats in the 140-member Kerala assembly.

However, the LDF suffered a serious setback at the 2009 Lok Sabha polls when it saw its seats fall from 19 to a mere four.

The LDF candidates also lost the three assembly by-elections last year.

But Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan appears to be in an upbeat mood and said that the LDF would sweep the local bodies polls.

“If the people who have got the benefits of our government’s rule vote for us, then it would be a landslide victory for us,” said Balakrishnan.

But the UDF is wondering at the confidence shown by LDF as there have been a lot of changes to its profile since the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

The five member Janata Dal-Secular split, with two remaining in the LDF and the other three crossing over to the UDF. Similarly, the Kerala Congress (Joseph) that had four legislators also split with all but one crossing over to the UDF by merging the party with the Kerala Congress (Mani).

Similarly, the lone legislator of the Indian National League also crossed over to the UDF.

But with so many new entrants in the UDF, seat-sharing between the allies has hit a roadblock. Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy went on record saying that everyone has to adjust to the situation of the new entrants and suitable sacrifices will have to be made.

“The Congress party has always treated its allies with utmost respect and it would be the same this time also. Things will be mutually worked out to the best interests of all. Seats that the allies contested last time would be theirs,” said Chandy.

Another feature of the election would be that women will get 50 percent seats to contest and as a result, 605 local bodies in the state will be headed by women.

This includes 489 gram panchayats, 76 block panchayats, seven district panchayats, 30 municipalities and three corporations in the state.

With the local bodies polls seen as a semifinal before the assembly polls, which are due to take place in less than seven months, no party in either front would like to lie low as a better performance would enable them a claim for the big fight next year.