Leaders camp outside counting centre

Prominent leaders from the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party did not try to hide the fact that gram panchayat elections are largely fought along party lines.

They camped outside the counting centre here on Monday with garlands and sweets, along with huge groups of their supporters. But despite the overwhelming evidence to the presence of political parties in what is essentially a democratic exercise devoid of party politics, there were also pockets of resistance to political interference.

In the Thenka Ekkaru Gram Panchayat, for instance, the election was fought almost entirely on local issues resulting in a mishmash of candidates from rival political ideologies standing together on one issue. “The notification of land for acquisition for phase 2 of the Mangalore Special Economic Zone was the only issue on which these elections were fought,” said Raghu, a victorious candidate.

Stranger events unfolded in the Ambalamogaru Gram Panchayat where a Congress-backed candidate won in what is considered to be a BJP stronghold. “Even the rival BJP candidate, who is a childhood friend of the Congress candidate, campaigned for his rival,” said Lokesh Shetty, a supporter of the winning candidate.

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