Winning more than half of the 1199 three-tier local governing bodies, the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front has surged ahead in the Kerala local polls which were played against the backdrop of mix of local issues, anti-incumbency of Congress government and Hindutva agenda of Sangh Parivar.
Congress-led United Democratic Front, which had bagged 70 per cent of the local governing bodies in 2010, lost several sitting seats to the CPI (M) and also the BJP, which had surged ahead in several Hindu patches across Kerala.
The LDF got a windfall in village grama panchayats by winning 550 local bodies out of 941. In the block panchayats also, the LDF surged ahead in 90 out of 152. Whereas in district panchayats, municipalities and corporations, both political fronts have won on almost equal number of seats.
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For the CPI (M), the victory in the local body elections is welcome departure from a streak of electoral debacles the party-led LDF has been confronting since the LS elections in 2009. The LDF had improved its performance in southern and northern parts of Kerala, while UDF has maintained its traditional strongholds in Central Kerala, except the districts of Idukki and Thrissur.
The BJP has improved its tally compared to the previous local body polls. The party has won 931 seats in village panchayats as against 450 seats in the village bodies in 2010. The party won 21 divisions in block panchayats and three in district panchayats.
In 2010, the BJP had only nine seats in various corporations, whereas five years later the party could increase the count to 51. Of the 51 seats the BJP has won in corporations, 34 seats came from Thiruvananthapuram Corporation alone where the BJP has high stakes in assembly election. In municipality segment, the BJP has increased its seat share from 76 in 2010 to 236 in 2010.
However, the party has not managed to reap dividend from its alliance with backward Hindu Ezhava outfit Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam. In Alappuzha and Kollam districts, SNDP Yogam has failed to fetch seats for the BJP. In a few municipalities, the BJP has emerged decisive as it could spoil the otherwise bipolar outcome between the LDF and the UDF.
Congress ally Indian Union Muslim League lost several local bodies in its pocket borough Malappuram district after that party went solo in the elections. In many places in Malappuram, a local level coalitions of non-IUML parties have emerged winners.
BJP state president V Muraleedharan said the huge victory of the party was unexpected.
CPI (M) said the state has voted for secularism and against corruption. “It is victory over BJP’s communal agenda. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy should quit as he had stated the election was a referrundom on his government. The increase in the vote share of BJP should be viewed seriously,’’ said CPI (M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
While several Congress leaders stated the bar bribery case against Kerala Congress (M) leader and finance minister K M Mani was a factor contributed to the defeat of the UDF, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the UDF would study the failure and take collective decision.
Many Congress leaders said the party and the government should revisit the issue of resignation of Finance Minister K M Mani.