Thiruvananthapuram: Five of the 14 districts in Kerala will go to polls on Tuesday in the first phase of local body elections, considered the semifinals ahead of the Assembly polls in 2021.
The voters of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki districts, will go out to vote in polling booths amid Covid safety protocol. The polls are crucial for the ruling CPM led LDF, opposition Congress-led UDF and the BJP which is making desperate attempts to make inroads into the red bastion.
All eyes are set on the prestigious Thiruvananthapuram corporation. The BJP buoyed by the massive surge in GHMC elections in Hyderabad believes that the corporation is within their striking range.
In 2015 polls it won 34 seats becoming the main opposition. This time it is targeting 70 of the 100 wards. The LDF on the other hand is confident of retaining the corporation on the strength of its development work and pro-poor welare programmes.
There are 88,25,620 registered voters across these districts who will elect representatives to 318 grama panchayats, 50 block panchayats, five district panchayats, 20 municipalities and 2 corporations. Though the main fight is between the ruling CPM led LDF and opposition Congress-led UDF, with the BJP too putting up a strong fight, the local body polls are expected to witness triangular contests in many local bodies.
The LDF which has traditionally maintained an upper hand in local body polls, is facing a tough challenge this time in the wake of sensational gold smuggling case involving chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s former principal secretary M Sivasankar and some other functionaries of the CMO. Though the local issues usually gain precedence over state or national issues in the local body polls, the gold smuggling, corruption and the arrest of CPM's former state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son in a money trail related to drug racket are being used widely in opposition campaigns.
Almost all major central investigation agencies including National Investigation Agency (NIA), CBI, Enforcement Directorate, Customs are probing cases related to gold smuggling and alleged corruption in government’s major schemes. The LDF on its part has tried to build a counter attack accusing the central agencies of implementing the political agenda of the BJP led government at the Centre.
The principal opposition party Congress which heads the UDF, however, argues that it was chief minister Pinrayi Vijayan who wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get the cases investigated by the agencies of their choice.
- Second phase poll on December 10: Ernakulam, Kottayam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad
- Third phase on December 14: Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod will be held on December 14.
- Counting of votes on December 16.