Thiruvananthapuram | Ruling Congress-led UDF in Kerala today suffered a setback in the civic elections, billed as the semifinal ahead of next year’s assembly polls, as CPI-M -led LDF won a majority of local bodies while BJP made inroads improving its performance.
According to the results of the two-phased polls to the three-tier civic bodies held on November 2 and 5, LDF took control of four of the six city corporations, as many as 45 of the 86 municipalities and was way ahead in grama panchayats bagging 545 of the 941 at stake.
With UDF winning only two corporations, 40 municipalities and 366 grama panchayats, the Left front and BJP were quick to demand the resignation of Chief Minister Ommen Chandy, who led the ruling front’s campaign.
BJP, which has so far failed to taste success in assembly and Parliament elections in the state, won one municipality and 14 grama panchayats, but made significant inroads in several places especially Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Palakkad, posing stiff threat to both UDF and LDF.
BJP President Amit Shah’s ‘political agenda’ in Kerala to have cooperation with Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, an outfit of backward Ezhava community led by its general secretary Vellappaly Natesan seems to have paid off.
Dealing a major blow to both UDF and LDF in the prestigious 100-member Thiruvananthauram Corporation, BJP wrested 34 wards, pushing UDF to third spot with 21 seats. LDF, which held the Corporation for the last two decades, won 42 wards, short of a simple majority. BJP’s improvememnt is significant as it had won only six wards in the last polls.
LDF retained Kollam and Kozhikode corporations and emerged the single largest party in Thiruvanthapuram and Thrissur, a Congress bastion, while UDF held on to Kochi and took control of the newly formed Kannur corporation, as per results declared by the State Election Commission. In the 14 district panchayats, LDF and UDF shared seven each while in the block level LDF was leading in 89 panchayats and UDF in 62 with others one.
The outcome of the civic poll assumes significance as the ruling front was hoping to perform well overcoming the mounting attack of political rivals over the bar bribery case in which an FIR has been filed against State Finance Minister K M Mani.
The results are also widely seen as a blow to Chandy who had throughout the campaign maintained that the outcome would be a referendum on the performance of his four-and-a-half-year old government.
Reacting to the outcome, senior Congress leader A K Antony said he was not shocked by the results but saddened by the unexpected defeat. As far LDF is concerned, the verdict comes as a morale booster before next year’s assembly polls, especially after its poor showing in the Lok Sabha elections last year when UDF won 12 of the 20 seats.
Hailing the LDF victory, CPI-M veteran V S Achuthanandan and CPI-M state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said it was a verdict against the UDF government.
It is a strong reaction of the people of the state against corruption, Balakrishnan said referring to the bar bribery scam allegedly involving state Finance Minister K M Mani.
Accepting the poll outcome, KPCC President V M Sudheeran said party would examine the reasons for the Front’s setback and take corrective steps.
Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala wanted a deep introspection into the failure and said superficial corrective measures will not do. What is needed is a deep- rooted treatment’.
Expressing happiness over its impressive performance, BJP State President V Muraleedharan said the verdict was a fitting reply to those who had written off his party.
Elections were held to 21,905 wards in six corporations, 941 gram panchayats, 86 municipalities, 152 block panchayats and 14 district panchayats and the votes were counted today.
Meanwhile, Achuthanandan and CPI-M MP M B Rajesh claimed people of Ezhava community rejected SNDP-BJP tie-up. Achuthanandan, who led a spirited campaign for the Left parties in the elections, said the people of Kerala, particulalry members of Ezhava community, rejected the unholy alliance between BJP and SNDP Yogam.
Rajesh said even in Cherthala Municipality in Alappuzha, the home town of Natesan, he could not ensure the victory of any of his candidates. This is an indication that people are unhappy with his friendship with BJP, he claimed.
He (Natesan) had urged his community members to defeat candidates of LDF by casting their votes to Congress nominees in the areas where his alliance did not field candidates. But members of the community outright rejected it, he said.
Natesan, however, said no discussion had taken place between SNDP Yogam and BJP for a joint electoral battle for the civic elections. It was not an organised effort. There was not a system in place. But we could make at least our presence felt in the Kerala’s political land scape, he said.
In the initial stages of the election campaign, it was widely perceived that the BJP-SNDP adjustment would dent the CPI(M) vote bank comprising mostly backward castes.
Subscribe to our email newsletter.