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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 2, New Delhi, December 26 2020

Political Significance Of The Local Body Polls (2020) In Kerala | M R Biju and M R B Anantha Padmanabha

Saturday 26 December 2020

by Prof. (Dr.) M. R. Biju and M.R.B.Anantha Padmanabha

Prelude

Article 243 E and 243 U of the Constitution of India deals with the question of duration of Panchayats and Municipalities and periodicity of elections to the rural and urban local bodies. It says “Every Panchayat/Municipality unless sooner dissolved under any law for the time being in force shall continue for five years from the date appointed its first meeting and no longer”. This constitutional provision also prohibits any dissolution of a Panchayat/ Municipality during its life by amendment of law. It also provided that an election to constitute a Panchayat/Municipality shall be completed before the expiry of its duration of five years and in case it is dissolved, the election shall be completed before the expiration of six months from such dissolution. If, however, a dissolved Panchayat/municipality had a tenure of less than six months left, there is no need for election for such a short period. Thus conduct of election to the rural and urban local bodies at a five-year interval is mandatory. Elections to the civic bodies assumed greater significance because local level democracy is the basic foundation on which the entire democratic edifice rests. The legitimacy of these elections as crucial instruments of a democratic political process at the local level is increasing day by day.

The 2020 Local body elections were the 10th poll after the attainment of independence. The first poll was held in 1953 under the provisions of the then Travancore - Cochin Panchayat Act, 1950. The second election was held in 1963 after the formation of the state in 1956 and after the passing of Kerala Panchayat/ Municipality Acts of 1960. It was followed by elections in 1979, 1988, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015. With regard to the political significance of the local body polls 2020 is concerned it has to be noted that coalitions winning a majority of the local bodies have go on to register victories in the subsequent assembly polls or Lok Sabha polls. Having clear representation at the grass-root level is also key for political parties to effectively implement the development agenda once they come to power. With a slew of welfare schemes, navigating the state through back — to —back floods and controlling the Pandemic in initial months, the LDF had a clear edge but the political ramifications of the gold smuggling case, the arrest of CPIM state secretary’s son in a money laundering case and the pandemic going out of control has certainly troubled the LDF. On the other hand, UDF made a slight edge over the LDF by making use of all the available avenues. For the BJP and NDA an improvement on its past performance is a must to satisfy its central leadership.

The Local body polls (2020) in Kerala were originally scheduled to take place in October as the tenure of elected representatives to the local bodies is set to end on November 12. The new elected bodies were expected to take oath before that date. However, an alarming rise in Covid-19 pandemic in the state through August and September forced a rethink among the officials and political parties. An all-party meeting was convened by the state government where almost all political parties agreed on requesting the state election commission to defer the polls by a couple of months but not indefinitely. After due consultations with leaders of political parties, health department officials, the state election commission agreed to postpone the polls till December when the situation is expected to normalise.

Kerala has a total of 1199 local self-government institutions that are categorised into village panchayats, block panchayats, district panchayats, municipal councils and municipal corporations across 14 districts. The total number of local bodies in the state is 1199. Out of it 941 were Gram Panchayats, 152 were Block Panchayats, 14 District Panchayats, 86 Municipalities and 6 Municipal corporations. Mattannur Municipality could not went for polls, as the five-year term of the council is yet to expire. The detailed breakup of seats includes, 15962 wards in 941 village panchayats, 2080 wards in 152 block panchayats, 331 seats in 14 district panchayats, 3078 wards in 86 municipal councils and 414 wards in 6 municipal corporations.

With regard to Kerala’s three principal coalitions are concerned, CPI(M) lead Left Democratic Front (LDF), Congress lead United Democratic Front(UDF) and the BJP lead National Democratic Alliance(NDA) were in the electoral fray. Many seats were routinely won by independence and by individuals backed by local citizen groups. The party/ coalitions with a majority of seats in the council gets the opportunity to govern the body and nominate its chairperson. In 2009 Kerala Legislative Assembly passed a legislation enabling 50% of the seats in the LSGIs to be reserved for women. The reserved seats as well as women only posts for president, vice president and mayor rotate every five years. Fixed numberof seats are also reserved for SCs and STs, as per the provisions of Kerala Panchayati Raj Act 1994 and Kerala Municipalities Act 1994.

In the 2015 polls the CPI(M) lead LDF won comfortably by taking control of 551 of 941 grama panchayats, 88 of 152 block panchayats, 7 of 14 district panchayats, 42 of 86 municipal councils and 4 out of the 6 municipal corporations. The Congress lead UDF came second by capturing 362 grama panchayats, 63 block panchayats ,7 district panchayats, 40 municipal councils and 2 municipal corporations. The BJP could come to power only in 14 grama panchayats and 1 municipal council.

The local body polls were held in Kerala in three phases from 08th December to 14th December 2020, adhering to strict Covid-19 Protocol. The first phase on 08th December were held in five Southern Districts-Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki. Followed by the second phase on 10th December at Kottayam, Trissur, Palakkad and Wayanad. The third phase on December 14th, remaining four districts of Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod went to the poll. According to the State Election Commission polls were held in 21865 wards. The filing of nomination papers were completed on 19th November 2020, counting of votes were held on 16th December and the entire election process were completed on 23rd December 2020. The commission had decided to permit postal voting facility for Covid-19 patients and those who are in quarantine.

PART-I : PRE-POLL SCENE

LSGIs in Kerala (2015-20): Performance Analysis

As local self-governing institutions, the performance of both the urban and rural institutions in the state of Kerala in the past five years were marked for an unprecedented widening of their role and an increase in challenges, with local bodies being at the forefront of everything from post disaster relief work to the implementation coordinator of almost every other developmental initiatives. This is the scenario and background at a time when people’s plan campaign has completed 25 years of its implementation is noteworthy, as this was one of the aims when the decentralisation programme was rolled out in 1996.

  • Kerala Floods 2018 and 2019
  • The state of Kerala had to face two major natural disasters and Two health crisis over the past three years [2017- -2020] have certainly played a catalysing role in the increased visibility of the work done by the state’s local bodies, which were at one time associated with local civic works and waste management. When the unprecedented floods hit the state of Kerala in 2018, local bodies across the state swung into action, even though they were never seen as key elements in disaster management. In coordinating local rescue efforts especially in transporting relief materials the entire local self-governing institutions in the state lent help to areas much farther from their limited geographic spreads. Some local bodies even sent squads to clean up houses and public places and provide medical relief. By the time another major flood happened in 2019, thus had become a standard expectation and many of the local bodies upped their game.
  • Nipah outbreak and COVID-19
  • During the Nipah outbreak in 2018, the civic bodies in the affected areas initiated grassroots level awareness campaigns and contact tracing, which helped much in arresting the spread of the virus as well as the fear around the same. But it was after the covid-19outbreak that they played a much responsible and wider role, with the use of their network of health staff for contact tracing, in keeping track of quarantined people and in the setting up of community kitchens across the state.
  • Surakshakeralam project
  • When the state government announced the Surakhskeralam project to ensure self-sustainability in vegetable cultivation ,it was the local bodies which worked with the department of Agriculture to identify and prepare several hectres of land for cultivation .Moreover, the Civic Bodies have also played a key role in the implementation of government’s flagship projects including LIFE Mission ,the Haritha Kerala mission’s river rejuvenation ,and mini forest projects and palliative care projects of the health department .
  • LSGIs with sufficient powers and funds
  • The LSGIs in the state of Kerala are no longer starved of funds or dependent on the government for carrying out its responsibilities. The legislative measures undertaken to support the constitutional rights of local bodies have also endured. Along with transferred powers and responsibilities, there are legally binding provisions for the regular transfer of the state’s plan funds to these bodies, notwithstanding complaints about delays and cuts in fund flows. Unlike in many other states, LSGIs in Kerala have clearly demarcated powers and responsibilities. It has also to be noted that if the people’s plan campaign of the LDF government in 1996 was not introduced, the LSGI s would have remind as mere implementation agencies of the centre and state. Naturally excessive control of bureaucracy, lack of financial resources, delay in the conduct of elections, in sufficient representation of women and weaker sections would have been the net result (Krishnakumar R:2020). Further, the elected representatives of LSGI s in Kerala belonging to different political ideologies, have undoubtedly performed their assigned duties and responsibilities. In times of floods, epidemics and other natural calamities the work of each elected representative from grama panchayat to municipal corporation was totally linked with the daily lives of citizens. Moreover, LSGIs also provided the representatives a lot of experiences and avenues for moving forward to the higher ladders of political life either at the state level or national level.

VOTERS, NOMINATION PAPERS AND CANDIDATES

  • 2.76 Crore Voters

With 5.35 lakh fresh enrolments in October 2020 the final voter’s list for the 2020 had gone to 2,76 crore voters. This includes 1.44 crore women,1.31 crore men and 282 transgender people. Malappuram District has the highest number of votes [33.54 Lakh]. The least number of voters was in Waynad[6.25 lakh]. Malappuram district also had the highest number of transgender voters[49]The District —wise details of voters are given under:

  • Over 1.7 Lakh Nomination Papers.

According to the SEC, approximately 1.7 lakh candidates had filed their nominations across the state. Out of it over Three Thousand nominations were rejected. Of the rejected nominations 2215 were filed for elections to Gram Panchayats, 305 for Block Panchayats and 133 for District Panchayats. With regard to urban local bodies were concerned 477 nominations filed in municipal councils and 121 in six municipal corporations were also rejected.

  • Over 75,000 candidates in the frame 

The electoral scene fully emerged after the completion of the scrutiny process. A total number of 75013 nomination papers were accepted by the Election Commission after the scrutiny. While 54494 candidates were in the fray in 941 Gram Panchayats, 6877 candidates were in Block Panchayats and 1317 candidates in District Panchayats. The 86 Municipalities had 10399 candidates in the fray. In the six Municipal corporations, there were 1986 candidates.

Table-I - Details of Voters in Kerala December 2020 (District Wise)

District Female Male Transgender Total
Thiruvananthapuram 1507550 1330503 24 2838077
Kollam 1181236 1041513 21 2222770
Pathanamthitta 575832 502712 6 1078580
Alappuza 943584 838984 12 1782580
Kottayam 833032 780551 11 1613594
Idukki 460007 444629 7 904643
Eranakulam 1335044 1253978 42 2589064
Trissur 1424160 1267180 24 2691364
Palakkad 1216473 112078 28 2337282
Malappuram 1725455 1629154 49 3354658
Wayanad 319534 305913 6 625453
Kozhikode 1324448 1208544 30 2533022
Kannur 1090781 946178 14 2036973
Kasargod 546532 502009 8 1048549
Total 14483668 13172629 282 27656579

Source: The New Indian Express, Trivandrum, 13.11.2020

Table-II - Details of Nomination Papers (District-Wise)

District Grama Panch ayat Block Panch ayat Dist. Panch ayat Munici pal councilMunici pal corp oration Total
Thiruvananthapuram 10719 1165 129 1218 1016 14247
Kollam 10650 1079 237 715 556 13237
Pathanamthitta 6607 636 102 1215 NA 8560
Alappuza 9811 1149 244 1809 NA 13013
Kottayam 8946 991 203 1781 NA 11921
Idukki 5211 604 134 456 NA 6405
Eranakulam 11186 1405 253 3587 835 17266
Trissur 12189 1502 273 2358 690 17012
Palakkad 10353 941 258 1023 NA 12575
Malappuram 14510 1815 308 3550 NA 20183
Kozhikode 9221 1147 238 1847 807 13260
Wayanad 3432 411 136 652 NA 4631
Kannur 7031 867 178 1898 443 10417
Kasargod 3992 483 137 689 NA 5301
Total 123858 14195 2830 22798 4347 168028

Source: The New Indian Express, Trivandrum, 20.11.2020

Table-III - Details of Candidates-Final list (District Wise)

District Dist Panch ayat Block Panch ayat Grama Panch ayat Muni cipal corpo ration Muni cipal council Total
Thiruvananthapuram 97 523 4777 556 516 6469
Kollam 107 528 4411 231 426 5703
Pathanamthitta 60 342 2803 NA 494 3699
Alappuza 82 508 4110 NA 789 5489
Kottayam 89 491 4118 NA 734 5432
Idukki 60 337 2595 NA 242 3234
Eranakulam 105 611 4724 401 1415 7256
Trissur 107 689 5030 230 964 7020
Palakkad 126 581 5016 NA 809 6532
Malappuram 183 839 5937 NA 1538 8497
Kozhikode 102 557 4130 362 882 6033
Wayanad 55 171 1308 NA 324 1855
Kannur 79 437 3544 206 876 5142
Kasargod 65 263 1991 NA 330 2649
Total 1317 6877 54494 1986 10339 75013

Source: The New Indian Express, Trivandrum, 24.11.2020

MANIFESTOS OF LDF, UDF AND NDA

  • LDF Manifesto promised social security and Universal pension

The LDF in its election manifesto had promised to bring every citizen above 60years under the social security pension scheme and also raise the monthly pension from Rs.1400/- to Rs.1500/- from January 2021. The manifesto also stated that the local body poll result will be the people’s mandate against the BJP- Congress conspiracy to destroy the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board. The promise to universalise social security pension is generally viewed as a continuation of the LDF’s sustained efforts to make inroads into poor families through welfare programmes. During the LDF Governments’ tenure, the number of beneficiaries under the scheme rose to 56 lakh from 33 lakh and the monthly pension has more than doubled from Rs.600/-. The manifesto also promised to create 10lakh job opportunities- 5 lakh each in agriculture and MSME sectors- under the initiative of local government institutions.

Aimed at wooing the poor and middle-class workers, the LDF has also promised internet connectivity in all households, computers in all classrooms of public schools beside doubling the number of doctors and health workers in community and health centres. However, the manifesto does note focus on the KarunyaAroghya Suraksha Padhathi, the free health insurance scheme for the poor, except a vague reference that it would be made more effective. It has also promised to effectively to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine. Further it also lays stress on total sanitisation, promising that municipalities and corporations will spend Rs.2500/- for in the next five years to achieve the goal. The manifesto further promised to expand the Kudumbasree Women empowerment programme, adding more workers, upto 50 lakh from the present 44 lakh. Besides its annual budget provision of Rs.250 crore will be doubled.

  • UDF Manifesto focusses on Covid fight and Waste Management

The UDF in its election manifesto for the LSGIs had promised Covid-19 vaccine for all people, once it is ready in the country. While releasing the UDF’s election manifesto, ‘Rejuvenated villages, rising cities’ at Indira Bhavan, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala claimed that separate manifestoes will be released for all local bodies. The UDF manifesto criticises the way in which they had cut short the powers of decentralisation.

Though the UDF was way behind its candidature compared to the LDF and the BJP, it is the first to come out with an election manifesto ahead of civic elections. The 10-member election manifesto subcommittee had CMP leader C.P John as its convener. UDF has promised its voters the much-needed Covid-19 vaccine where steps would be ensured to provide it in all wards, once it hits the market.

“The vaccine will be available through primary health centres and government hospitals. Covid, leptospirosis and dengue outbreak will be controlled with the help of the health department. Also Covid quarantine centres will be opened,” says the UDF’s manifesto.
Over the last five years when the civic bodies had come under the wrath of the public for poor waste management disposal, the UDF manifesto promises an effective method to address the issue. A special project will be brought in to address the safety of women and children. One of the major highlights in the UDF’s election manifesto was the promise to bring back the Karunya health scheme.

  • Manifesto of the BJP/NDA

The BJP in its election manifesto promised a slew of developmental initiatives in various sectors of the state of Kerala. Though they had presented an ariel view covering the entire state, the focus of the party was on capturing power of Thiruvananthapuram Municipal corporation. It promised that the corporation will come to the people’s door step, rather than waiting for the services of the corporation. According to the top leaders of the party the BJP would bring the kind of development to Thiruvananthapuram that could change the entire face of the state. The Manifesto promised a “Swachh Thiruvananthapuram” development project involving smart drainages and waste to energy projects. As part of the “Haritha Nagaram” plan, the capital will be turned into carbon neutral city, with bicycle, friendly roads and a push towards electric vehicles. An industrial corridor connecting Vizhinjam sea port and Thiruvananthapuram International Airport would be implemented.

The manifesto also promised help for the start-ups in the city to raise investments. A comprehensive projects would be implemented for the Kazhakoottam IT Corridor. The “Make in Thiruvananthapuram” branding would be marketed to promote indigenous products. Flyovers would be constructed at all major junctions. A pilgrimage circuit connecting major religious centres in the city would also be implemented. A project would be executed to ensure a hunger free city. Industrial parks would also be opened an aim to provide as one lakh jobs. Moreover, the city would be turned to an educational hub of international standards.

MAJOR CAMPAIGN ISSUES

  • Campaign issues went beyond Local 

With the official announcement of the local body polls by the State Election Commission , seat sharing talks gathered momentum both in the UDF and LDF.As far as UDF was concerned they had convened the district committee meetings in the presence of its state level leaders including PCC Chief ,Leader of opposition ,UDF convenor, and former Chief Minister .the Congress leadership had decided to conduct bilateral discussions between constituent parties over the seats in district and block panchayats .Based on it,Ommen Chandy and senior leader Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan held discussions with leaders of Kerala Congress[J],Muslim League and other parties. It was also decided that after reaching a general formula or consensus on the number of seats to be shared among constituent parties, the concerned district UDF leadership will initiate discussions on district panchayat divisions. Further, talks on block Panchayats divisions were conducted at the respective assembly constituency level. the disputes in these discussions were settled with the intervention of the district UDF leadership. Unlikepreviousoccasions, the UDF state leadership as a whole were very confident about their electoral prospects from the very beginning. Tothem, “the LDF Government had plunged into deep rooted corruption. These are not mere allegations but a reality. The investigations have unearthed corruption and initiated legal action as well. Apart from central agencies, even the state vigilance registered cases against some of the accused in these corruption cases. People are fully fed up with wrong doings of the state government”. Unlike the previous elections, the top UDF leadership called upon the district and lower level leaders and party workers to work hard to perform upto the expectations of the common mass, by complying the covi-19 protocols.
Unlike the usual civic body elections in which local issues are highlighted during the campaigning ,the UDF this time relied to uphold its slogan ‘one vote against corruption’ to high light a slew of corruption charges against the LDF government .The high power political affairs committee of the PCC decided to use Sprinklerrow, sand mining at PampaTriveni,Consutancy contracts given to Price water house Coopers ,the Rs 4500Crore e-mobility scheme ,Rs 100 crore gold smuggling row ,LIFE Mission scam and Bineesh kodiyeri’s alleged nexus in the Bangalru drug case to corner LDF.

  • Stand of the LDF and CPI(M)

On the contrary the CPI[M] had attempted to out space the scandals that seemed to have dogged it at every step since the UAE consulate linked goldsmuggling case appeared above the political horizon. The party seemed to radiate confidence that it had ceased to be a magnet for salacious scandals unleashed by the Congress and the BJP,given the recent change at its helm. By one account “the state leadership of the CPI[M] felt that the state secretary Kodiyeri had at a stroke, denied the opposition the initiative in the electoral battle and rendered the party less of a target for slander by going on leave for medical treatment. ‘The party further believed that it was better poised to break out of the smokes screen of lies laid down by the opposition and coast to victory in the local body polls on the strength of its accomplishments.

According to the state leadership “the strategy of the Congress and the BJP is to create an environment of suspicion against the government. The vilification campaign might confuse voters temporarily but people have experienced tangible benefits of the development. Development works estimated at Rs. 50000 Crore are on a roll. The change is perceptible in every panchayat and municipality.”

  • Combined attack against the CPI(M) and the Left

In fact the ruling LDF had an upper hand in the state politics upto June 2020. But when the civic body polls were around the corner the Congress lead UDF and BJP began to raise a series of allegations in a combined manner targeting the flagship programs of the LDF government. The first in this series of allegations was raised by the opposition focussing the lack of transparency in the deal by the state government with “Sprinklr” a US based technology firm. The opposition accused the government of not following due procedure in appointing the company and allowing it to collate and handle the data of people who were under quarantine without taking their consent (Krishnakumar.R: 2020). Yet another heavy blow faced by the ruling left government came in the form of gold smuggling case and the involvement of two topmost officials — principal secretary and private secretary to the chief minister- M. Sivashankar and C M Raveendran. It was followed by the decision of the Enforcement Directorate(ED) to Summon K T Jaleel, Minister for higher education in the import of holly Quran from the middle east without proper clearance from the centre. The state also witnessed the unprecedented decision of the CPI(M) state secretary to went on leave citing medical grounds after the arrest of his son under the prevention of Money laundering act 2002 for his alleged links with narcotics case.

  • Counter Attack of the CPI(M) and the Left

In the beginning the state government welcomed any enquiry by the Central agencies on controversial cases but soon they openly began to allege that the BJP and the Central Investigating agencies were misusing institutions of importance to strike at the LDF government. The ruling LDF launched a series of state wide agitations to expose the centre and the BJP. To them, the centre through the investigation agencies are trying to scuttle prestigious developmental projects like Life Mission, Kerala Fibre Optic Network, Tarus IT park, E Mobility Project etc. (Krishnakuar.R:2020). In a tit-for-tat response, the state police also began to target the UDF leaders in the state. They registered case against two IUML leaders one MLA (M C Kamaruddin) and one former PWD minister (Ibrahim Kunju), over the charges of corruption. Thereafter, the state vigilance department launched an enquiry against the leader of opposition and two former Congress ministers over allegations by a hotelier that they had accepted bribes from bar owners when the UDF was in power. Efforts were also initiated by the state government to revive a few other cases- the solar scam targeting the former C M and few ministers, another case against a sitting MLA (P T Thomas) in a controversial land dispute and a case against PCC chief for making derogatory remarks against women.

  • Controversy over KIFFB

Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIFFB) is a corporate body formed in 1999 but reinvented four years back by the then LDF government for funding infrastructure projects including roads, bridges, hospitals, schools and collages with smart room classes, parks, stadiums in all 140 assembly constituencies of Kerala. The government had also announced that Kerala planned to mobilise at least Rs.60,000/- crore in the coming seven to eight years through KIFFB for infrastructure development in Kerala. The present controversy over KIFFB stated with the findings of the CAG. In its report CAG stated that KIFFB had raised Rs.1250/- crore from international market without the consent of the Central Government and that the Masala bonds it issued to raise money from foreign markets were in violation of Article 293(1) of the constitution of India.

  • Political parties behind digital agencies/social media

There was no denying that the social media played avital role in the local body polls which were held amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Social media campaigns no doubt replaced the traditional electioneering modes and the candidates were taken to virtual platform to highlight relevant local and regional issues. For all political parties, the virtual way has become the new normal as door to door campaigning rallies, conventions and pamphlet distribution were not practical. All the three friends have began hunting for the agencies that can help them utilise the digital space effectively. Foreseeing the trend, the social media agencies came forward with special election offers. Their services include online cards, WhatsApp messages, voice calls, SMS, recorded messages etc. Rising to the occasion, voice booth studios across the state, which were composed parody songs and announcement bites for candidates came up with comprehensive packages to aid their campaigning.

Forced to prioritise digital strategies, political parties had left no stone unturned. As part of countering social media campaigns targeting the CPIM and the State Government, The LDF had geared up to focus on a sustained campaign. A dedicated social media team with representatives from all Left allies were formed at the AKG centre in view of both local body and the forthcoming assembly elections. According to the LDF leadership, the left parties in general and CPIM in particular were unfairly targeted by the media in view of the investigations by various central agencies. But the BJP on the other hand prioritised corporations and deployed tech teams with content management teams in all districts. Not to be left behind the digital media cell of the PCC had rolled out Janashakti, an internal communication programme over telegram. It was a team of 60 odd techies for content generation on digital platforms at the state level and similar teams at the ward, block, district and assembly constituency levels. The party leadership and its media cell adopted a bottom-up strategy giving considerable leeway for grassroots- content analysis.

  • Factional feud in the state BJP

The factional feud in the BJP state unit deepened on the eve of the local body polls. Attempts to pacify the dissident leaders led by the state Vice-President SobhaSurendran has not succeeded. The dissidents had demanded that leaders who have been side lined in the state unit reorganisation and also downgraded, be given befitting posts in the party. As a result of the infighting, the candidate selection for the local body polls became a headache for the party in several districts. Earlier it was decided to complete the poll process and poll preparations by the first week of November. The BJP Core committee meeting was also not convened since the crisis began. The party central leadership has set a target of winning a minimum of 8000 wards in the local body elections. But the dissident leaders were of the firm opinion that such a target of the central leadership would not turn as a reality if around 100 state-level leaders and around 1500 local level leaders, who have been totally side-lined, and were not given opportunity to function in the party. To them, the cause of any reversal the party suffers cannot be thrust on the dissidents. If it is not addressed quickly, an electoral set back would be the net result. The leaders of the dissident camp also maintained that they have no choice but to come out publicly with their stance if their complaint is not addressed.

  • Reservation for EWS and its Aftermath.

The proposal of the state cabinet to implement 10% reservation for economically weaker sections [EWS] in the state has triggered political and communal debates with Muslim organisations, irrespective of their ideological moorings, opposing the new quota policy. Almost all Muslim denominations including the two rivals Sunni groups lead by Syed JifriMuthukoyaThangal and Kanthapuram A P AboobakerMusliyar were on the same page. Incidentally the organisations are traditionally either backed or favoured by the Congress lead UDF and the CPIM lead LDF. Similarly, the Welfare party of India, the political outfit of the Popular Front of India were fiercely opposed to earmarking reservation for the EWS belonging to the forward Hindu and the Christian communities. It is quite interesting o add that how the political developments over the reservation proposal echo in the forthcoming (2021) assembly elections is now in the realm of speculation. Interestingly, even partners within the two coalitions have different opinion on the issue. The PCC president had criticised the state government for implementing reservation for forward communities before the apex court delivers its verdict on it. To him, while implementing reservation for the forward communities, it should not deprive the existing beneficiaries of reservation.

  • Controversy over the Kerala Police Ordinance 2020

The Amendments to the Kerala Police Act 2011 gives the Police more power to prosecute persons who exploit various communication platforms to slander fellow citizens. Soon after the signing of the Ordinance by the Governor, the entire opposition and Socio-Political Commentators had lashed out at the new provisions in the Ordinance. It was vehemently criticised by national-level leaders and left sympathisers. As a result of the combined opposition the Kerala government was forced to take a decision not to enforce the controversial provisions of the Ordinance. It was also decided that any further action on it would be taken only after discussing it in the assembly and collecting feedback from the general public. Kerala has sought to make Amendments by keeping in abeyance its obnoxious proposal to abridge free speech by conferring unbridled powers on the police to arrest anyone expressing or disseminating any mater deemed threatening, abusive, humiliating or defamatory to a person or a class of persons in any manner. It is in credible that a state government crafted a law with elements declared unconstitutional by the supreme court, ignoring a major apex court verdict on the law of defamation and which is repugnant to the provisions of IPC, a central law, in two ways, besides going against one provision in the CrPC. His defence that the amendment only targeted defamatory social media posts and could not curb reportage, political satire or expression of opinion is quite hollow, when seen in the light of the absence of any such narrow definition of the offence introduced by section 118 A in the Kerala Police Act. In Shreya Singhal Vs Union of India (2015) the apex court struck down section 66 A of the I T Act. The section had criminalised the sending of any message through a computer resource that was grossly offensive or costed annoyance, inconvenience, insult, danger and intimidation. The same judgement, for the same reason also struck down section 118 (D) of the Kerala Police Act which made causing annoyance in an indecent manner through verbal comments or on telephone an offence.

  • PembilaiOrumai (Women collective) not in the fray

Another noticeable feature of the 2020 Civic Polls in Kerala was the decision of PembilaiOrumai (women collective) that it had decided not to contest elections. PembilaiOrumai was a collective of women estate workers in Munnar (inside the walls of tea plantations), which successfully organised a massive agitation in 2015 got media attention worldwide. It continued the agitation for long challenging the political organisations which it termed “supported the exploitation of workers” in the plantation sector.

The agitation by women who plucked tea leaves for generations got massive support from across the states. The economically backward women collective got financial aid from cultural organisations and prominent persons without political affiliations. Many cultural leaders visited Munnar to express solidarity. To a large extent, the stir succeeded as the government was forced to revise the minimum wage of estate workers in the state. PembilaiOrumai entered the electoral seem in the 2015 local body elections and successfully fielded candidates to Devikulam Block Panchayat and MunnarGrama panchayat. But the degeneration started with inherent divisions after it entered the political seem. It had to face better opposition from other political parties and trade unions. In fact, the seed of the degeneration was within when it entered politics of power. Moreover, it also failed to garner support and influence outside the plantation area.

  • Fifteen LDF candidates elected unopposed

Even before the Civic Polls begins the LDF had the reason to cheer as its 15 candidates were elected un opposed. They had no opponents from either the UDF or the NDA was in Kannur, the bastion of the ruling CPIM in the state. A total of seven seats to Anthur and Taliparamba municipalities were elected unopposed, while in the 2015 local body elections as many as 10 women candidates were elected un opposed in the newly carved Anthur municipality. Apart from the seven seats in two municipalities, the LDF had won eight wards in three grama panchayats without opposition. Among the grama panchayat wards, candidates in five wards in Malapattagrama panchayat and in two wards in Kankol-Alappadamba panchayat in Kannur were elected un opposed.

  • Stand of Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI)

Whether it is an assembly poll or Lok Sabha poll, the martyrdom of RMPI founder T P Chandrasekharan will be a topic of discussion in the politically sensitive Onchiyam and Eramala Grama Panchayat of Kozhikode district. It gets more intense during the local body polls. After the murder of T P on May 04, 2012 the RMPI’s attempts to emerge as a force against the CPI(M) continue to be a tale of endurance.

PART-II POLLING AND RESULTS 

The Left Democratic Front in Kerala registered a resounding victory in the three-phase local body polls whose results were announced on 16th December, 2020. The elections to 15962 wards in 941 grama panchayats, 2080 wards in 152 block panchayats, 331 divisions in 14 districts panchayats, 3078 wards in 86 municipalities and 414 wards in 6 municipal corporations were held on December, 8, 10, 14. The overall voter turnout was 76% only marginally lower than 77.76% in 2015. Details of polling percentage is given under:

Table-IV : Voter Turnout -2020

Phase  District Percentage Phase (Average)
Phase I Thiruvananthapuram 70.0 73.1
Kollam 73.8
Pathanamthitta 69.7
Alappuzha 77.4
Idukki 74.7
Phase II Kottayam 73.9 76.4
Ernakulam 77.1
Thrissur 75.0
Palakkad 78.0
Wayanad 79.5
Phase III Malappuram 78.9 78.7
Kozhikode 79.0
Kannur 78.6
Kasaragod 77.2
All Kerala 76.2

The CPM led Left Democratic Front (LDF) won the majority of Districts Panchayats, Block Panchayats, Grama Panchayats and Municipal Corporations. The only consolation for the congress laid UDF was the slight upper hand it gained in Municipalities. Though the BJP improved its tally from 2015, party could not reach anywhere closed to its ambitious plans. The LDF won in 10 districts panchayats against 7 in 2015. 4 out of 6 corporations were also set to welcome the Left. It also won 514 of 941 grama panchayats. The UDF which won 375 grama panchayats is set to form the ruling council in 45 of 86 municipalities. The LDF won 35 municipalities while NDA won 2. The NDA also captured 23 grama panchayats apart from retaining its positions as the major opposition in Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation.

The LDF which garnered 10328 seats in the Local Body polls held in 2015 could get 10116 seats this time, a decline of just 222 seats. However, the UDF which won 8847 seats in 2015 has got only 8022 seats in 2020, a drop of 825 seats. The BJP laid NDA has bettered its tally by taking its total seats to 1600 from 1244 in 2015. In fact, 5 reasons were responsible for the thumping victory of the Left — better selection of candidates with most of them fresh faces, alliance with Jose K.Mani’s Kerala Congress (M) helped in Kottayam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta Districts, distribution of free food kits, could convince the voters about the communal pampering by the UDF with Jamaat—e-Islami backed welfare party and the strategy to field a large number of candidates as independents who contested without party symbol. Regarding the reasons for the debacle of the UDF is concerned, relentless campaign on gold smuggling scandals and corruption, candidate selection especially going with old and familiar faces disunity among top congress leaders on various issues which meant confusing signals to the electorate and tie-up with welfare party send out a wrong message. For BJP constant bickering and disunity among top leaders, inability to present itself as a credible, winnable alternative and turns support base into votes, failed to capitalize investigation against the CMO. Further, Sabarimala no longer remained as an election issue.

The civic polls in Kerala is an indication of the forthcoming collapse of the congress party in the state as it happened in other states. Faced with over confidence of winning 19/20 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, UDF suffered severe setback even when there where many reasons for the odds to grow. Despite the number of issues against the present government including anti-incumbent sentiments, corruption and gold smuggling case, the congress miserably failed to convert them into actual votes angering even its alies like Muslim League and RSP. As Congress suffers a setback the former Chief Minister Ommen Chandy seems to benefiting from the parties drubbing as there is a growing demand to bring him back as the state congress chief and majority of the congress workers see him as the Vanguard of the Party. With the resounding victory the LDF is all set to march under the leadership of the CM.

  • UDF Needs Serious Interospection

The UDF in Kerala needs to do serious introspection on what went wrong which caused for its disaster failure. The UDF camp was confident of winning a majority of local bodies all through the campaign period. But the leadership was in fact caught unawares when the results trickled. Jose K.Mani of Kerala Congress Mani Group made a spectacular shop in the central Kerala which was a severe shock to the entire UDF. The general feeling among the front leaders was that Jose K.Mani fraction leaving the UDF and joining the LDF would not affect their prospects. But the election results depicted a reverse picture.

The UDF camp was like a deflated balloon and reluctantly admitted to have failed in taking the advantage of the political situation in the state. If minority voters had turned out in large numbers to vote for the UDF candidates in the Lok Sabha elections, a lot of them apparently switched to the LDF in the local body polls 2020. The war of words between congress MP’s K.Muraleedharan and K.Sudhakaran, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and UDF convenor M.M.Hassan on one side and PCC chief Mullappally Ramachandran on the other against the local-level adjustment with the welfare party of India had only benefitted the LDF.

  • BJP’s Performance Was Below Expectations

After the completion of the polling the BJP state leadership made a claim of registering atleast a threefold rise from the 1200 plus local body wards that it won in 2015. But when the results came out the party had to be content with a marginal rice of around 400 seats, despite unprecedented money and manpower the party invested in the 2020 elections. The party’s long-cherished dream of a BJP mayor welcoming P M Modi when he visits the Capital City also remained unfulfilled. The party fell one seat short of its previous tally of 35 seats in Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation. In the other 5 Municipal Corporations including Thrissur the party could post only single digit results. However, the party managed to open its account in Kannur Municipal Corporation. Among other urban local bodies the only saving grace was winning Pandalam Municipality while also holding on to Palakkad Municipality. The tally of Grama Panchayats marginally improved from 14 to 23 in 2020 though the party’s open projection was atleast 100. The BJP state unit enjoyed the strongest financial backing this time from the Central Leadership. Also it was an election in which RSS cadre and all over feeder organization worked round the clock at the grass root level for the party. Despite these factors, the inability of the party to garner wards from a wide cross section of society would also come in for scrutiny from the central leadership. Moreover, the dissidents issue in the party which was muted due to the local body polls is likely to rear its head again, posing a major challenge to the state leadership. The dissident leaders are likely to sharpen their attack against the present leadership.

  • Pragmatic Politics of The Chief Minister

The verdict is generally seen as a victory for the pragmatic politics of the CM, who took the lead to bring Jose K.Mani to the left fold, despite strong opposition from the CPI and even a section within the CPM. Clearly that has paid off hugely in the left’s favour. The CM had to face a bit of resistance from within the party recently. The verdict has ended speculations of any such appraising in the near future, with the victory silencing critics who were eagerly waiting to pounds on him once polls were over. Ever since he took the reins of the CPM two decades ago his was the major voice in the left. Of late, it has become the lone voice. Never before has the left front and its government being such a unified force. It was his decision to appoint new party chief when Kodiyeri stepped down.

  • Jose K.Mani Factor

Proving right the LDF leaderships decision to induct the Jose K.Mani led Kerala Congress (M) into the coalition, the left front has conquered the UDF fortress of Kottayam in the local body polls. In one of the biggest political upsets in the state politics, the LDF won the Kottayam District Panchayat and 10 out 11 block panchayats besides a majority of grama panchayats in the districts. Out of 6 municipalities, the LDF won 2 and the UDF 1, even as three municipalities delivered a hung verdict. In Kottayam, even when it faced a major setback in the previous local body elections, the UDF could retain the District Panchayat and maintain a clear edge in a majority of block and grama panchayats. This time however, the LDF won 14 divisions in the 22 member district panchayats, a significant leap from the 8 and it had won in 2015. Meanwhile, the UDF tally came down to seven from fourteen in the outgoing council. The LDF rested power in 10 block panchayats while UDF’s representation shrunk from 10 in the last elections to one in 2020. Among the grama panchayats, the LDF has registered a clear majority. Out of the 71 grama panchayats the LDF claimed 39 while the UDF had to be satisfied with 24. In a major achievement, the NDA won the Palikkathode panchayat and emerged the single largest entity in Mutholy Panchayath.

  • SDPI Increased Its Seats

The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) increased the number of seats it won in the 2015 poll by more than 100%. While SDPI had won 40 seats including 32 grama panchayat wards, 7 municipal wards and one Corporation division in 2015 it bagged 95 seats in 2020 including 75 panchayats wards one block panchayat ward and 18 municipal wards and 1 corporation division. Chathinakkulam in Kollam Municipal Corporation is the lone corporation division won by the party in 2020.

  • Welfare Party of India

The UDF’s political truck with the Welfare Party of India (WPI) appears to have aided the Congress laid UDF going by the first look. It has helped the UDF defeat the LDF particularly in parts of Kozhikode and Malappuram. But it remains to be seen how it has laid to erosion of traditional UDF votes. In Mukkam WPI’s 3 seats had enabled the alliance to draw level with the LDF tally of 15. An LDF ruled Municipality an IUML rebel, who won from ward 30 will decide who will call the shots in Mukkam. Kodiyathoor, another left ruled grama panchayat has been scalped by the UDF with the help of 2 WPI’s seats. In Malappuram 2 grama panchayat — Kottilangadi and Angadippuram — have also been snapped up by the UDF, courtesy of the WPI. The WPI won 3 wards and 1 ward in Koottilangadi and Angadippuram respectively.

  • Performance Of Twenty:20

The biggest take away from the 2020 local body polls is the rise of KITEX backed apolitical organization named Twenty:20, which scripted a new chapter in the political history of Kerala in general and the annals of local body elections in particular by winning 3 more Grama Panchayats and retaining the existing Kizhakkambalam grama panchayats in Ernakulam districts. The success has prompted Twenty:20 to contest in the forthcoming assembly elections in a big way. The sharp rise of Twenty:20 in the other grama panchayats — Mazhuvannoor — Kunnathunadu and Aikkaranadu — has taken place by eating into the votes of mainstream political parties including CPM and Congress. In Mazhuvannoor and Kunnathunadu, Twenty:20 crushed the ruling UDF to register the thumping victory while the ruling LDF laid by CPM was completely decimated in Aikkaranadu Grama Panchayat where Twenty:20 won all the 14 seats. Another major achievement for the organization is victory it could register for the first time in 2 divisions — Kollencheri and Vengola in Ernakulam District Panchayats. In Vengola Twenty:20 will play a decisive role in forming the panchayat as it had won 8 seats.

  • What, Went Wrong For UDF?

While there are varied observations over the role played by Kerala Congress (M) in LDF’s unprecedented triumph in Kottayam, it is evident that KC(M) failed to retain the number of seats that it won while with the UDF. Though LDF rested the Kottayam district panchayat from UDF with KC(M)’s support, its representation was reduced to the lowest in two and half a decades. Pala Municipality was no different, with KC(M) being reduced to just 10 seats this from 17 in 2015. KC(M) also could not retain Mutholly and Ramapuram, which are part of the Pala Assembly Constituency. Still the fact is that, a large Chunk of the Catholic community, a trusted vote base of UDF, stood by Jose. In other words, Jose emerged as the new leader of the community filling the vacuum created by his father’s death. This obviously helped LDF in making inroads into the Christian dominated vote base in Central Travancore. Distancing of minority communities especially catholics was one of the major reasons for UDF’s setback as was evident from its loss of votes in Kottayam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta. Also the Jacobite faction of the Malankara Church which placed its trust in the State Government in the Church dispute, lent wholehearted support to LDF. The two factors played a major role in LDF’s triumph in UDF bastions like Puthuppally, Kaduthuruthy, Pala, Changanassery and Kanjirappally Assembly Constituencies. Moreover the Church hierarchy is also learned to have been completely disappointed with the current UDF leadership.

  • RMPI And Its Performance

Despite some unexpected setbacks the Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI) has managed to prove its political significance in Twenty:20 by putting up a strong fight against the LDF. The formation of ‘Janakeeya Munnani’, which also had the support of the UDF leadership helped it to challenge its politically strong rivals even in their strongholds. The victory in Eramala panchayat was most significant one for RMPI — UDF alliance in Twenty:20. It was the political difference in Eramala Panchayat in 2008 that led to the formation of RMPI and its growth under slain leader T.P.Chandrasekharan. The reason behind the split was the handing over of Eramala panchayat president post to a Janata Dal nominee ignoring protest by the CPI local leaders. Following the disagreement, T.P.Chandrasekharan and N.Venu quit the party and formed the RMPI. RMPI leaders said the local alliance also made commentable returns in Onchiyam, Azhiyoor, Mavoor panchayats. Further, the support of RMPI will be crucial for UDF to assume power in Mavoor as per the information available RMPI has 21 local body representatives in the whole state.

PART-III

CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS

The Left Democratic Front has no doubt painted the southern districts of Kerala — Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Kollam and Alappuzha in red paint. The LDF had forayed into the UDF bastions in Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Idukki District with the support of Jose K.Mani fraction of Kerala Congress (M). Strikingly the UDF seat tally dipped sharply from 2015. It seems the anti-incumbency factor has benefited the BJP more in Pathanamthitta than the Congress. The LDF also surged in Alappuzha which had sided with UDF in 2015. However, the LDF always had a strong support base in the region especially in the traditional coir and toddy setters. The UDF’s showing was moderate compared to its 2015 record. The NDA benefitted from the UDF’s lackluster performance at the hustings. It gained around 200 seats across local bodies in Alappuzha. In Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam the UDF put up a weak fight. The capital saw a steep fall in the Congress vote share. In Kollam the LDF staged an impressive come back at the expense of UDF.

For the LDF, which found itself up against wall fighting a slew of charges going to the polls, the campaign surrounding the state’s track record in governance and welfare measures, especially in the field of education and health through the life mission and in times of disasters, helped in a big way. While its strength in rural areas remained largely intact, there was an erosion of left wards in the municipalities. However, the front looked set to clinch municipalities such as Nilambur with the support of independent candidates. In prestigious contests such as won in Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation, Kottayam District Panchayat, Pathanamthitta Municipality, Onchiyam panchayat in Kannur and Kasargode, the front put up a good show.

Through Jose K.Mani LDF made clear in roads into the Christian dominated vote base in Central Travancore. Distancing of minority communities especially catholics was one of the major reasons for UDF’s setback as was evident from its loss of votes in Kottayam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta. Also the Jacobite faction of the Malankara Church which placed its trust in the State Government in the Church dispute, lent wholehearted support to LDF. The two factors played a major role in LDF’s triumph in UDF bastions. A large Chunk of the Catholic community, a trusted vote base of UDF, stood by Jose. In other words, Jose emerged as the new leader of the community filling the vacuum created by his father’s death.

In conclusion it can be stated that, the thumping success of the LDF is because of several factors. Notable among them include viz; better selection of candidates with most of them fresh faces, alliance with Jose K.Mani’s Kerala Congress (M) distribution of free food kits, the LDF could convince the voters about the communal pampering by the UDF with Jamaat—e-Islami backed Welfare Party of India (WPI) and the strategy to field a large number of candidates as independents who contested without party symbol. Along with these reasons organizational weakness and leadership deficit of the UDF and NDA’s spoiler effect also helped the Left in a massive way throughout the length and breadth of the state.

TABLE-V - LOCAL POLLS 2020 PERFORMANCE OF LDF/UDF/NDA & OTHERS

Party Group Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipality Corporation
Total 941 152 14 86 6
LDF 371 105 10 19 3
UDF 211 37 2 22 1
OTH 8 0 0 0 0
NDA 2 0 0 2 0
Hung 349 10 2 43 2

Source: State Election Commission, Kerala

TABLE-VI - THE VERDICT — STATE / DISTRICT WISE PICTURE

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  15962 2080 331 3078 414
LDF 7262 1267 212 1167 207
NDA 1182 37 2 320 59
OTH 1620 49 6 416 27
UDF 5893 727 110 1173 120

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  1299 155 26 147 100
LDF 637 117 20 75 51
UDF 402 30 6 38 10
NDA 194 6 0 31 34
OTH 66 2 0 3 5

KOLLAM

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  1234 152 26 131 55
LDF 587 116 23 76 39
UDF 427 34 3 42 9
NDA 151 2 0 13 6
OTH 67 0 0 0 1

PATHANAMTHITTA

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  788 106 16 132 0
LDF 308 60 12 43 0
UDF 285 40 4 45 0
NDA 111 4 0 25 0
OTH 84 2 0 19 0

ALAPPUZHA

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  1169 158 23 215 0
LDF 597 122 21 91 0
UDF 338 31 2 74 0
NDA 146 4 0 31 0
OTH 87 1 0 19 0

KOTTAYAM

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  1140 146 22 204 0
LDF 491 98 14 72 0
UDF 378 44 7 73 0
OTH 183 4 1 38 0
NDA 88 0 0 21 0

IDUKKI

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  792 104 16 69 0
UDF 328 46 6 31 0
LDF 334 51 10 10 0
OTH 108 7 0 20 0
NDA 21 0 0 8 0

ERNAKULAM

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total 1338 185 27 421 74
UDF 568 89 16 176 30
LDF 430 76 7 123 29
OTH 295 19 4 87 10
NDA 45 1 0 34 5

THRISSUR

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  1465 213 29 274 55
LDF 802 158 24 122 20
UDF 441 50 5 86 23
NDA 133 4 0 40 6
OTH 89 1 0 26 5

PALAKKAD

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  1490 183 30 240 0
LDF 827 145 27 65 0
UDF 460 35 3 74 0
NDA 113 3 0 51 0
OTH 90 0 0 50 0

MALAPPURAM

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  1778 223 32 479 0
UDF 1001 157 27 246 0
LDF 443 60 5 112 0
OTH 319 6 0 102 0
NDA 15 0 0 18 0

KOZHIKODE

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  1226 169 27 265 75
LDF 613 98 18 112 49
UDF 504 66 9 122 14
OTH 90 5 0 22 5
NDA 18 0 0 9 7

WAYANAD

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  413 54 16 99 0
UDF 204 31 8 38 0
LDF 166 23 8 49 0
OTH 30 0 0 12 0
NDA 13 0 0 0 0

KANNUR

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  1166 149 24 289 55
LDF 767 109 16 175 19
UDF 318 40 7 85 34
OTH 56 0 0 9 1
NDA 25 0 0 20 1

KASARGOD

Party Grama Panchayat Block Panchayat District Panchayat Municipal Councils Municipal Corporations
Total  664 83 17 113 0
LDF 260 34 7 42 0
UDF 239 34 7 43 0
NDA 109 13 2 19 0
OTH 56 2 1 9 0

Source: State Election Commission, Kerala

TABLE-VII - PARTY POSITION IN MUNICIPALITIES/DISTRICT-WISE

Thiruvananthapuram

Name of Municipalities Total Seats LDF UDF NDA IND & Others
Atttingal 31 18 6 7 0
Neyyattinkara 44 18 17 9 0
Nedumangad 39 27 8 4 0
Varkala 33 12 7 11 3
Kollam
Karunagappally 35 25 6 4 0
Paravoor 32 14 14 4 0
Punalur 35 21 14 0 0
Kottarakkara 29 16 8 5 0
Alappuzha
Alappuzha 52 35 11 3 3
Chengannur 27 1 14 8 4
Cherthala 35 18 10 3 4
Kayamkulam 44 20 17 3 4
Mavelikkara 28 8 9 9 2
Haripad 29 9 13 5 2
Pathanamthitta
Adoor 28 11 11 1 5
Pathanamthitta 32 13 13 0 6
Thiruvalla 39 10 16 6 7
Pandalam 33 9 5 18 1
Idukki
Thodupuzha 35 4 10 7 14
Kattappana 34 6 21 1 6
 
Kottayam
Kottayam 52 21 21 8 2
Pala 26 12 8 0 6
Vaikkom 26 8 11 4 3
Changannassery 37 14 13 3 7
Ettumannoor 35 11 12 6 6
Erattupettah 28 6 8 0 14
Ernakulam
Aluva 26 2 14 4 6
Angamaly 30 9 15 2 4
Kalammassery 41 13 19 1 8
Kothamangalam 31 6 13 0 12
Muvattupuzha 28 11 13 1 3
North Paravur 29 6 15 3 5
Marad 33 8 17 0 8
Perumpavoor 27 6 13 2 6
Thrikkakara 43 13 19 0 11
Thrippunithura 49 21 8 15 5
Elloor 31 9 7 6 9
Piravam 27 7 12 0 8
Koothattukulam 25 12 11 0 2
Thrissur
Chalakkudy 36 1 25 0 10
Chavakkadu 32 22 9 0 1
Guruvayoor 43 25 11 2 5
Iringalakkuda 41 16 17 8 0
Kodungallur 44 22 1 21 0
Kunnamkulam 37 18 7 8 4
Vadakkancherry 41 21 16 1 3
Palakkad
Ottappalam 36 16 9 8 3
Palakkad 52 6 12 28 6
Shornur 33 16 6 9 2
Chittoor-Thathamangalam 29 7 12 0 10
Pattampi 28 8 11 1 8
Cherplassery 33 11 11 2 9
Mannarcadu 29 1 13 3 12
Malappuram
Malappuram 40 11 25 0 4
Manjeri 50 14 27 0 9
Kottakkal 32 3 20 2 7
Nilambur 33 9 9 1 14
Perinthalmanna 34 17 9 0 8
Ponnani 51 38 9 3 1
Tirur 38 10 17 1 10
Parappangadi 45 6 27 3 9
Vallanchery 33 3 17 1 12
Tirurangadi 39 0 29 0 9
Thanur 44 0 30 7 7
Kottotti 40 1 27 0 12
Kozhikode
Koilandi 44 25 16 3 0
Vadakara 47 27 16 3 1
Payyoli 36 14 21 1 0
Mukkam 33 12 11 1 9
Koduvally 36 5 21 0 10
Ramanattukara 31 12 17 0 2
Farooq 38 17 20 1 0
Wayanad
Kalappatta 28 13 12 0 3
Mananthavadi 36 15 17 0 4
Sulthanbatheri 35 21 9 0 5
Kannur
Koothuparamba 28 25 1 1 1
Payyannoor 44 34 8 0 2
Thalasseri 52 36 7 8 1
Thallipparamba 35 12 19 3 0
Antoor 28 28 0 0 0
Panoor 40 14 22 3 1
Irutti 33 14 11 5 3
Sreekantapuram 30 12 17 0 1
Kasargod
Kasargod 38 1 21 14 2
Kanhangad 43 21 13 5 4
Neeleswaram 32 20 9 0 3

Source: The Hindu, December 17, 2020

TABLE-VIII - THE FINAL RESULT CARD — 2015 AND 2020
Grama Panchayat (Total Wards - 15962)

Front 2020 2015 Difference
LDF 7263 7623 -360
UDF 5892 6324 -432
NDA 1182 933 +249

Block Panchayat (Total Wards - 2080)

Front 2020 2015 Difference
LDF 1267 1088 +179
UDF 727 917 -190
NDA 37 21 +16

District Panchayat (Total Wards - 331)

Front 2020 2015 Difference
LDF 212 170 +42
UDF 110 145 -35
NDA 2 3 -1

Municipal Councils (Total Wards - 3078)

Front 2020 2015 Difference
LDF 1167 1263 -96
UDF 1172 1318 -146
NDA 320 236 +84

Municipal Corporation (Total Wards - 414)

Front 2020 2015 Difference
LDF 207 196 +11
UDF 120 143 - 23
NDA 59 51 +8

(Source : Compiled by the Authors based on the data of State Election Commission, Kerala)

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  21. Krishnakumar R (2020), LDF track record over shadowed in run-up to local body polls in Kerala. Frontline, 18th December.
  22. Anil S., (2020), Confidence Booster for Left Front; The New Indian Express, Kannur, 17 December
  23. Cynthia Chandran, (2020), Punched on Nose, UDF Needs to do Introspection; The New Indian Express, Kannur, 17 December
  24. Sovi Vidhyadharan, (2020), BJP Fares below Expectations; State Top Brass May Face Heat; The New Indian Express, Kannur, 17 December
  25. Anil S., (2020), Pinarayi Emerges Stronger, Silences Critics Within, Outside; The New Indian Express, Kannur, 12 December
  26. Prabhash J., (2020), LDF Sitting Pretty, All Not Lost For The Other Two; The New Indian Express, Kannur, 12 December
  27. Ajay Kanth, (2020), Twenty:20 Scripts Victory in Three New Panchayats; The New Indian Express, Kannur, 17 December
  28. Express News Service, (2020), Kottayam, Jose Factor Prevails, LDF Breaches UDF’s Kottayam fortress; The New Indian Express, Kannur, 17 December
  29. Amiya Meethal, (2020), Did Political Truck with Welfare Party of India Contribute to UDF Welfare? The New Indian Express, Kannur, 17 December
  30. Express News Service, (2020), Kochi, SDPI Increases its Seats by More Than 100%; The New Indian Express, Kannur, 17 December
  31. Abhilash Chandran, (2020), What, Went Wrong for UDF in Central Travancore; The New Indian Express, Kannur, 19 December
  32. Hiran Unnikrishnan, (2020), KC(M) Mani Faction Proves its Worth to LDF; The Hindu, Kozhikode, 17 December
  33. Anand G., (2020), LDF Paints South Kerala Red; The Hindu, Kozhikode, 17 December
  34. Anandan S., (2020), Welfare Measures Outweigh Corruption Charges; The Hindu, Kozhikode, 17 December
  35. Biju Govind, (2020), BJP Fails to Impress Again; The Hindu, Kozhikode, 17 December.

(Authors:

Prof. (Dr.) M. R. Biju, Dean, School of Legal Studies & Head, Department of Public Administration & Policy Studies, Central University of Kerala, Tejaswini Hills, Periye (PO), Kasaragod, Kerala - 671 320

And

M.R.B.Anantha Padmanabha is Deputy Editor, South Asian Journal of Socio-Political Studies (SAJOSPS) )

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