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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Kerala elections: One-third of candidates started out in local bodies

Of the 400 candidates in the fray for the 140 Assembly seats in the state for whom details are available, 140 have been either part of or are sitting members of local self-governing bodies.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: March 20, 2021 7:03:30 am
Aritha Babu, youngest from Cong in fray; Kanathil Jameela

More than one-third of the candidates fielded by the different political fronts in Kerala — the LDF, UDF and NDA — have risen from the state’s vibrant three-tier self-governing local body system.

The choice of these faces with a proven track record is another endorsement of the local body system in place in Kerala since 25 years.

Of the 400 candidates in the fray for the 140 Assembly seats in the state for whom details are available, 140 have been either part of or are sitting members of local self-governing bodies. Of the 140, around half have been fielded by the LDF, 30% by the UDF and 20% by the NDA.

Among them is the CPM’s G Stephen, contesting from Aruvikkara, who got elected to a local panchayat for the first time in 1995 (when the system came into place) at the age of 22.

Another CPM candidate (from Koilandi in Kozhikode district), Kanathil Jameela, also tested the panchayat poll waters the same year. Later, she contested for the Kozhikode district panchayat elections twice and won.

The CPM candidate from Vandoor, P Midhuna, had in 2015 become the youngest panchayat president at age 22 winning a seat in Malappuram district as a candidate of the IUML.

O S Ambika, contesting as the LDF candidate from Attingal, has been both a village panchayat and block panchayat president.

Arithi Babu, 27, the youngest Congress candidate in Kerala, won a seat to the district panchayat from Alappuzha in 2015. She is contesting from Kayamkulam. Her CPM rival, U Prathiba, a sitting MLA, has also had an innings in civic bodies.

Dr Joy Elamon, the Director General of the Kerala Institute of Local Administration, an autonomous body under the state government, said, “This shows the strength of Kerala’s panchayati raj system… These candidates have exposure to governance and developmental issues. They (bring) true perspective.”

Incidentally, some of the leaders denied tickets and protesting also have roots in local bodies. In Kuttiadi in Kozhikode, after CPM cadres demanded that K P Kunhammedkutty Master, president of the district panchayat from 2005 to 2010, be given a ticket, the party conceded.

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