The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) with CPI (M) in Kerala appeared to make a leap on Wednesday in the state’s local body polls, which were often viewed as the semi-finals ahead of the assembly elections due to take place April through May next year.
The United Democratic Front (UDF) ranked second, topping over 400 local bodies as the votes polled in the three-phase elections that closed on December 14 were counted on Wednesday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remained a distant third, although it appeared to have made some gains, including at Pandalam, the center of protests against the entry of women in Sabarimala.
Here are the key details and meaning of local body surveys in Kerala for different parties / fronts:
LDF: The Left Democratic Front leads 514 of the 941 Grama Panchayats, five of the six city corporations and 11 of the 14 district panchayats, said Prime Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, describing the strong performance as the victory of the people. The left front was also up front in 108 Block Panchayats, Vijayan told reporters.
The remarkable surge in the LDF came at a time when the front and its government were going through one of the most difficult periods since they came to power in 2016, as they were exposed to a barrage of allegations, including the gold smuggling leveled by the opposition.
Former Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister M Sivasankar, a senior IAS official, had been arrested in the gold smuggling case investigated by various central agencies.
A closer look at the poll results shows that the political realignment in the LDF (Kerala Congress Mani and Loktantric Janata Dal joined the ruling coalition), the government’s effective Covid-19 control measures and its welfare programs, including the free ration, paid it rich dividends . The high-profile campaign the central agencies are using to target their leaders and try to sabotage welfare programs has also helped it gain sympathy votes, political observers said. Consolidating minorities against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also helped a lot, they added.
UDF: The United Democratic Front, led by the Congress, wanted to repeat the Lok Sabha result – it won 19 out of 20 seats last year. Of the six companies, however, only Kannur (North Kerala) and Kochi emerged victorious. However, the UDF, which led 375 gram panchayats, 44 block panchayats, 45 parishes and three district panchayats, claimed it had not lost ground in any of its traditional bastions and claims of escape were “unfounded”.
The leaders of Congress said they would investigate the reasons for the debacle and practice enough introspection. “The political climate was conducive to the party. We will investigate the reasons and take corrective action, ”said party leader TN Prathapan, an MP from Thrissur.
BJP: The party’s President K Surendran claimed that the UDF and LDF had worked together to stem the rise in the BJP. “Last week, LDF-Convenor A Vijayaraghavan said the CPI (M) had taken enough action to stop BJP on its trail. In many counties, congressional officials voted for the CPI (M) to sabotage the BJP’s chances in Thiruvananthapuram, ”he said, adding that the prevailing dispensation also distributed secret leaflets in many places for minority consolidation against the BJP.
One of the reasons given by political experts in Kerala for the poor performance of the BJP is the growing argument. Many high-ranking leaders like Shobha Surendran, PM Velayudhan and KP Sreesan stayed away from the campaign this time around. There are two groups in the party – one from Minister of State for Foreign Affairs V Muraleedharan and one from senior leader PK Krishnasdas. After Surendran was named president, many leaders stayed away from party activities protesting his way of working. His opponents in the party said they would turn to the party’s central leadership to change officials.
Although the BJP couldn’t put on a spectacular show, it still seemed on track to improve on its 2015 record when it won 14 Grama Panchayats and Palakkad, the community.