The results from the local body elections in Kerala have firmly placed the CPM-led LDF in the driving seat with wins in 514 of the 941 gram panchayats, 10 of the 14 district panchayats and 108 of the 152 block panchayats. The Congress-led UDF came second in these segments — 375 gram panchayats, 44 block panchayats and four district panchayats. The BJP-led NDA has the members to control 23 gram panchayats though it doesn’t have the numbers to hold a single block or district panchayat.
In corporations, the LDF achieved simple majority in Kozhikode, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram and became the single largest party in Kochi. The UDF got a simple majority in Kannur and the single largest party status in Thrissur. In Both Kochi and Thrissur, both fronts will have to shore up support of rebels or Independents to get mayor and deputy mayor posts.
In municipalities, the UDF has done slightly better, winning control of 45 of the 86 municipalities followed by the LDF getting power in 35 and NDA in two.
The results are certainly a stinging setback to the UDF which was hoping to win big in the local body polls and thereby present a united and strong campaign in 2021 Assembly polls. Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala admitted that the ‘public sentiment against the corruption of the LDF government’ in the backdrop of the gold smuggling case has not reflected in the results.
On the other hand, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said it is the victory of the people and a fitting reply to the central government agencies which are trying to “wreck the state.”
LDF’s major inroads into UDF vote-banks particularly in Thrissur, Ernakulam and Kottayam districts indicates a popular support base that goes beyond the CPM’s strict cadre votes.
As for the BJP, it has faced setbacks in contests to Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram corporations. At the same time, it has doubled the number of gram panchayats it holds and has added a municipality to its tally.
The elections to 15,962 wards in 941 gram panchayats, 2080 wards in 152 block panchayats, 331 divisions in 14 district panchayats, 3078 wards in 86 municipalities and 414 wards in six municipal corporations were held in three phases on December 8, 10 and 14. The overall voter turnout was 76%, only marginally lower than 77.76% in 2015.