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Friday, October 29, 2010

Left routed in Kerala civic polls

October 29, 2010

Reaffirming once again that the end of the Left’s supremacy in Kerala politics is imminent, the people of the State voted the CPI(M)-led ruling LDF out of power in majority of the local administration bodies.

As the results of the civic elections held in two phases on October 23 and 25 came out on Wednesday, the LDF suffered jolts at all the three levels of the local administration system. The Left’s setback was a near replication of the setback the CPI(M) suffered in the last municipal elections in West Bengal.

As the present setback has come after its terrible defeats in the last Lok Sabha election, by-polls to three Assembly seats and several local council byelections, observers expect the LDF to be thrown out of power in the State elections in April-May next.

The Left was defeated in two of the four city corporations where counting of votes was held on Wednesday. The poll results in the municipal councils were shocking to the Left as the results of the 2005 elections were more than reversed. Of the 57 municipalities for which votes were counted, the Congress-led UDF bagged 30.

The Left, which had won 34 municipalities in the 2005 civic elections, was reduced to just 12 seats. Though it managed to win more seats than the Congress-led front in some other municipal councils, this became meaningless as they could not muster enough seats to rule. In 15 municipalities, no party was in majority.

In results in the prestigious Kochi Corporation, which it ruled for 32 years continuously, was shocking for the Left. Of the total 74 seats in this corporation, the LDF was reduced to 21 seats while the UDF bagged 44 divisions. The BJP won two seats. The LDF also lost power in the Thrissur Corporation.

The Left win in the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation was absolutely unconvincing as it was by just one seat in the 100-division council. The UDF, which had won only ten seats in the last election, bagged 41 seats this time.

The BJP won in six divisions. The only corporation where the Left had a convincing win was Kollam.

However, the severest shock for the Left came from the Grama Panchayats, where the votes came from the grassroots, said to be the support base of the proletarian CPI(M). As the results for the 902 Grama Panchayats in which counting was held trickled in late on Wednesday evening, the LDF had won or was leading only in 361 while the UDF led in 534.

This was almost a total reversal of the results of the 2005 civic polls in which the Left had won 668 of the total 978 Grama Panchayats. The CPI(M) might explain away the defeats in the urban areas as an elitist reaction but the setback in the village bodies is clearly an indication of how the party’s basic support system has crumbled.

The situation in the Block and District panchayats was also not very different. In the 140 Block Panchayats for which vote-counting was on, the LDF was leading only in 60 while the UDF was in the lead in 80. The LDF had won 13 of the 14 district Panchayats in 2005 but this time, the UDF was leading in eight.

Despite its startling defeat, the CPI(M) tried to put up a bold face. State CPI(M) secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said the LDF’s position had improved when compared to the Lok Sabha election while several other leaders termed the Left defeat as a result of the “unholy alliances” of the UDF.


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has registered an impressive victory in the local body elections in Kerala, securing majority in two of the five City Corporations and 38 of the 59 municipalities.

Initial trends point to the UDF leading in 7,584 grama panchayat wards, 1,103 block panchayat wards and 180 district panchayat divisions. The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) retained Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam Corporations and secured 16 municipalities. It has secured a lead in 5,887 grama panchayats, 757 block and 122 district panchayat divisions. The results of the Corporations and the municipalities were the first to be announced as electronic voting machines were used there. The first round of manual counting of ballots for the district, block and grama panchayats is progressing. A final picture is expected to emerge by Thursday evening. Counting at the Kozhikode Corporation will be taken up on October 31.

BJP fares well

The BJP has improved upon its tally compared to the previous local body polls. The party has got significant representation in Thiruvananthapuram Corporation — six seats, two in Kochi, one in Thrissur and 76 seats in various municipalities, the highest of 15 in Palakkad municipality. The party candidates finished runners-up in eight wards in Thiruvananthapuram Corporation. The party will play a crucial role in deciding the rulers in four municipalities. The SDPI has also opened its account by securing one seat each in Kannur and Thodupuzha municipalities.

A distinct feature of the local body elections this time is that 50 per cent of the over 21,000 seats are reserved for women in the multi-tier local self-government bodies.

The UDF wrested the Kochi Corporation from the LDF after three decades, winning 46 out of the 74 seats. The LDF won 23 wards and the BJP, 2 and Independent, 3. The UDF also emerged victorious in the Thrissur Corporation, winning 44 out of the 55 seats. Here, the LDF got six seats, the BJP, one and Independents, four seats.

The LDF has retained the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation winning 51 out of the 100 seats, leaving 41 to the UDF, six to the BJP and two to Independents. The LDF won the Kollam Corporation for a third successive term bagging 34 out of the 55 seats. The UDF got 18 seats and others, three seats.

No majority

As per the figures of the State Election Commission, none of the fronts secured majority in Neyyattinkara and Nedumangad municipalities in Thiruvananthapuram, and Changanassery in Kottayam district.

In Thiruvananthapuram district, the LDF retained Attingal municipality and the UDF wrested Varkala from the LDF. In Kollam district, the LDF won Paravur and Punalur municipalities, while the UDF registered an impressive victory in Karunagapally municipality. In Pathanamthitta district, the UDF secured majority in Adoor and Pathanamthitta municipalities and emerged as the largest group in Thiruvalla with 17 seats. While the LDF got 13, the BJP bagged five seats. The LDF won Alappuzha municipality and the UDF Cherthala in the district. The UDF emerged victorious in Kottayam, Vaikom and Pala municipalities. In Ernakulam district, the UDF won 12 and the LDF, one municipality. The LDF won four and the UDF two municipalities in Thrissur district. In Palakkad, the fronts shared two municipalities each. The rival fronts maintained status quo in Kannur district. Of the total six municipalities, elections were held to five. While the LDF retained Thalassery, Koothuparamba, Taliparamba and Payyannur , the UDF fortified its position in Kannur municipality. Elections to Mattannur will be held later.

In Kasaragod district, the UDF registered a thumping victory in Kasaragod and Kanhangad municipalities, while the CPI(M) defeated the UDF in Neeleswaram.

The UDF won the lone municipality in Wayanad district, Kalpetta, capturing 20 of the 28 wards. The Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League won eight seats each and the Socialist Janata (Democratic) four seats. In Malappuram, the UDF retained power in Malappuram, Manjeri and Tirur municipalities and toppled the LDF in Ponnani and Perinthalmanna municipalities. The UDF will rule the newly-formed Kottakkal and Nilambur municipalities. The UDF also won 17 seats in Perinthalmanna and the LDF 16. One seat went to an Independent candidate.

In the campaign, both the LDF and UDF had described the civic body elections, held on October 23 and 25, as a referendum on the government's performance.

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