Kerala local body polls: Ruling Left Front beats odds to come up trumps

Our Bureau. Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on December 16, 2020

LDF supporters celeberating the victory of their candidates in the local body polls at the counting station at Nalanchira, in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday   -  MAHINSHA S

BJP good in parts; Cong-led front bites dust

Ruling CP(I) M-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has beaten heavy odds and strong three-cornered fights to pull off an emphatic win in elections to the local bodies in Kerala held in three phases. The results are a major morale booster for the beleaguered Pinarayi Vijayan government ahead of the Assembly polls early next year.

The creditable LDF performance was matched only by a disastrous show put up by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), the main Opposition. The BJP made some notable gains, especially in gram panchayats, but mostly failed to live up to the high expectations it had raised going into the polls.

BJP fails to find traction

State BJP President and top NDA functionary K Surendran had hinted that the party wanted to build on its commendable show of 2015 and even win ‘crown jewel’ Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, much in the lines of his party’s campaign for elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.

But the party could manage no more than the sitting kitty of 34 in Thiruvananthapuram, though it can draw comfort from the fact that it routed some big names in the rival fronts along the way. Elsewhere, the party could not do much better either in the Thrissur Corporation, and even lost its mayoral candidate.

Performance in the local body elections in a nutshell is as follows: Corporations (6/6) LDF-4, UDF-2: District panchayats (14/14) LDF-10, UDF-4, NDA-0: Municipalities (86/86) LDF-35, UDF-45, NDA-2, Others-4 and Grama panchayats (941/941) LDF-516, UDF-374, NDA-23, Others-28.

LDF storms UDF bastions

The LDF government managed to fend off a series of serious allegations not just against the Office of the Chief Minister but also the senior-most leaders of the CPI(M) which linked them to cases ranging from the infamous gold smuggling to drug peddling and currently being investigated by the Central agencies.

None of these could influence the electorate, said AK Balan, Law Minister and a close confidante of the Chief Minister. “The masses chose to give credit where it is due,” he said, alluding to the ‘commendable efforts’ taken by his government to protect their interests after the 2018 floods and during the pandemic.

The ruling front not only managed to keep most of its territory in tact but also made significant inroads into those considered unassailable and guarded closely by the UDF, especially in the central parts of the state, by stitching up an alliance with the regionally strong Kerala Congress (Mani) party, against received wisdom.

Political gamble pays off

The gamble has paid huge dividends in the districts of Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Idukki districts in the central parts where the Kerala Congress faction led by Jose K Mani, son of UDF founder-leader and late KM Mani, whom the LDF had haunted on a series of charges in the not-distant past, while being the Finance Minister.

Inner-party strife following the death of Mani senior led to an inevitable split with Jose K Mani claiming his father’s mantle. More than a year later, he has more than proved his point and created an identity for himself by plotting the defeat of candidates of both UDF and the rival Kerala Congress faction.

Both the LDF and Jose K Mani have hinted that the coalition would combine as one as they go into the State Assembly elections next year. The runaway show in the local body polls would clearly land the Mani scion much more heft while bargaining for his share of seats ahead of the Assembly elections.

Published on December 16, 2020

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