Despite a series of corruption charges and an intense campaign against its government and leaders, Kerala’s ruling CPI-M-led LDF appears to be retaining its dominance in the local bodies as the results poured in on Wednesday morning.
Just before noon, the LDF was ahead of the Congress-led UDF in Gram Panchayats and blocks, while the latter had an edge in the municipal bodies.
In the six corporations, both the UDF and the LDF were in a neck and neck race, with LDF leading in four and UDF in two.
The BJP-led NDA seemed to be making considerable gains in the Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad districts. However, the LDF was ahead in Thiruvananthapuram, dashing the hopes of the BJP of winning the corporation in the capital.
Overall, the outcomes of the elections so far indicate that the BJP, despite its desperate attempts to expand its base in Kerala, has not yet got the results it had hoped for.
Results as of 11 am showed the LDF ahead in 103 bocks, and the UDF in 48. The NDA had the lead only in one. The state’s ruling coalition has a clear edge in the Gram Panchayats with leads in 454 of the 941 seats. The Opposition is leading in 368, and the NDA in 31. Others — Independents and smaller groups — were leading in 51.
The outcome so far has given reason for the CPI-M to cheer, as it indicates that the controversies and scandals its government was embroiled in have not had a strong adverse impact on its electoral support base. The LDF had faced a rout in the Lok Sabha elections held in 2019.
Although the local body election comes ahead of the state Assembly election, scheduled for early 2021, and is sometimes referred to as a mini Assembly poll, the voting patterns in the Assembly, Lok Sabha, and local bodies has been different in the state.
However, if the trends continue and the LDF retains its strongholds and edge in panchayats and blocks, it would be a major morale boost for the ruling coalition. CPI-M leader and former state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, whose sons have been in the shadow of corruption charges, has already announced that the election results have proved the opposition wrong.
The LDF’s recent move to get Kerala Congress (Mani) into its coalition, breaking it off the UDF camp, appeared to have yieled results, as the LDF could make fresh gains in districts like Kottayam and Pathanamthitta. The LDF has also inducted the Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) into the coalition.
The emergence of smaller groups in the urban areas, like the Thiruvananthapuram Vikasana Munnettam (TVM), V4Kochi, and the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) seemed to have eaten into the UDF votes, whereas the LDF has managed to retain its support base in corporations like Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram
While the results could instill confidence in the LDF, the Congress’s failure in retaining some of its bastions, including in Alappuzha, the home constituency of K C Venugopal, general secretary, organisation, could intensify the factional feud in the state unit of the party, with leaders indulging in a blame game.
The political impact created by the Supreme Court verdict on the entry of women into Sabarimala has been proven to be having an effect even now.
While the LDF was pushed to the third place in Chengannur, the BJP gained in Pandalam. Pandalam and Chengannur were the epicentres of the protests against the Sabarimala verdict.