Kerala local bodies poll
Congress loses on vote split, CPM sweeps, BJP gains
By S. Chandrasekhar
Local bodies polls being considered a semi-final to the Assembly polls scheduled for May 2006, Kerala'selectorate of 2.40 crore went to the polling booths on September 24 and 26 to elect 21,000 odd members to various local bodies like corporations, municipalities, districts, block and gram panchayats.
The Congress led by Chief Minister Oomen Chandy fought the elections with the support of major constituents of UDF like Kerala Congress (Mani) and Muslim League representing Christian and Muslim interests.
Along with other constituents of LDF like CPI, RSP, NCP, etc., the CPM also had an alliance with K. Karunakaran'sparty Democratic Indira Congress, which had split from the Sonia-led Congress.
BJP, the third force in the State, fought the elections single handedly by putting up candidates in almost 12,800 wards. The BJP had not put up candidates in the remaining wards because it wanted to ensure maximum winnability by consolidating its man-power and resources in selected pockets.
BJP'sinroads in Red Bastions
Right from the announcement of the polls, both the LDF and the UDF had been accusing each other of having secret understanding with the BJP. This is a constant charge made during all elections vis-a-vis BJP, taking into consideration the almost 13 per cent vote in the party'skitty. But this time this strategy was very calculated from the CPM side. After its disastrous showing in the Assembly polls in 2001, the CPM realised that it cannot win unless it gets the 46 per cent Christian and Muslim votes in the State, which in bulk went to the Congress-led UDF. It began wooing the Christians and Muslims and this was put to test during the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. The CPM-led LDF won 18 out of the 20 seats and even the Muslim League was humbled in its strong hold of Manjeri. To carry forward the strategy and to wean away the Christians and Muslims from the UDF, the CPM began spreading the bogey of UDF-BJP ties.
The BJP strategy was to make its presence registered in all local bodies of Kerala. Moreover in the past, raising the bogey of CPM victory, in the event of splitting of non-CPM votes between UDF and BJP, the UDF had been hijacking BJP votes. The BJP strategy was to prevent this vote hijacking and to emerge as the second force in Kerala vis-a-vis CPM, pushing the Congress to the third place. Moreover, the BJP wanted to break the UDF-LDF nexus which prevented BJP from winning.
The results of the elections declared on September 29 have vindicated BJP'sstand. It has made creditable performance in the polls. It has obtained representation in Thiruvanantha-puram, Kollam, Kochi and Kozhikode Corporations. It has three to four councillors in 30 of the 52 municipalities of the State. It is the largest single party in the Palakkad Municipality with 17 councillors. In Kasaragod Municipality, it has won 11 seats. Similarly, in Muslim bastions of Thrissur District like, Kodungallur, Kunnamkulam, Chavakkad and Guruvayur, it has won two to three seats each. The crowning glory of the BJP victory is in the CPM forts of Alapuzha and Kannur where clashes between CPM and RSS take place. The BJP has a councillor in Alapuzha Municipality. Similarly in the Red bastions of Thalassery, Koothuparamba and Thalipparamba the BJP has won two to three seats defeating the CPM. This is a serious blow to CPM considering the CPM hegemony in that area with its hit squads and party villages and their tendency to usurp the entire polling process. Similarly, in the Christian pockets of Mavelikkara, Changanacherry, Pathanamthitta and Thiruvalla the BJP has won up to three seats each. The number of BJP Municipal Councillors have increased from 43 to 84. Similarly, the BJP has captured power in one block panchayat and nine gram panchayats. Similarly, in 20 wards of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, the BJP has come second pushing the UDF to the third position. Also in nine municipalities and 60 gram panchayats it is the deciding factor.
The CPM strategy of obtaining the minority vote-bank has been achieved. In alliance with KarunakThe CPM strategy of obtaining the minority vote-bank has been achieved. In alliance with Karunakalliance with Karunakith KarunakThe CPM strategy of obtaining tThe CPM strategy of obtaining the minority vote-bank has been achieved. In alliance with KarunakaThe CPM strategy of obtaining the minority vote-bank has been achieved. In alliance with Karunakalliance with Karunakith KarunakThe CPM strategy of obtaining The CPM strategy of obtaininThe CPM strategy of obtaining the minority vote-bank has been achieved to the committed vote-bank of its alliance partners like Kerala Congress and Muslim League. They were able to hold on against the LDF-DIC onslaught in Kottayam, Malappuram and Kasargod. The Congress has been thoroughly beaten in strongholds like Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur, and Kozhikode. In several places the Congress has been pushed to the third position.
This election has proved the BJP strategy that it is in a position to take on the CPM and that traditional Hindu votes and anti-CPM votes, which usually go to the Congress, can be obtained by the BJP. It is bloom time for lotus in Kerala and they have much to cheer about.