The Congress-led United Democratic Front established its sway in a majority of the district, block and grama panchayats in keenly fought local body elections in Kerala, as manual counting of the ballot papers in the elections was completed on Thursday.

Results of the elections to the City Corporations and municipalities that were announced on Wednesday showed a similar trend.

Coming as it does barely six months ahead of elections to the Assembly, these results are seen as setbacks to the ruling Left Democratic Front.

As per statistics provided by the State Election Commission, the UDF wrested control of the Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram and Wayanad district panchayats, leaving Kollam, Alappuzha, Palakkad, Kannur and Kasaragod to the CPI(M)-led LDF. The LDF secured 49 block panchayats as against 89 won by the UDF. None of the fronts secured absolute majority in two block panchayats — Perumgadavila in Thiruvananthapuram district and Pandalam in Pathanamthitta district.

Grama panchayats

The UDF has got majority in 525 grama panchayats and the LDF in 301. As in the case of the blocks, neither the UDF nor the LDF got an absolute majority in 75 grama panchayats. Either the independents or the BJP members will prove to be a decisive factor in these panchayats.

The UDF has already upstaged the LDF in two of the five City Corporations — in Kochi and Thrissur — and won 34 of the 57 municipalities.

Counting of votes in Kozhikode district is to take place on October 31.

During the previous round of local body elections in 2005, the LDF secured all the five City Corporations and got absolute majority in 90 per cent of the municipalities, block and grama panchayats. A shift to the UDF was evident in the last Lok Sabha elections in which the front won 16 of the 20 seats, leaving four to the LDF.

As has been acknowledged by both sides, the civic elections are considered to be a dress rehearsal for the Assembly elections due in May 2011.

Ever since the formation of the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat, the UDF had never been in power. Winning 14 of the 26 divisions, the UDF gave a rude jolt to the LDF, in power since 1995. Though the LDF managed to retain the Kannur district panchayat, the UDF has improved its tally there. In the Ernakulam district panchayat, the LDF won 19 of the 28 divisions in the previous elections, but it has now been edged out by the UDF, winning 22 of the 26 divisions.

There has been virtually no opposition for the UDF in the Idukki and Malappuram district panchayats. Kollam is one district where the LDF could consolidate its position.

A clearer picture of the final party-wise tally is expected to emerge by Friday evening.

Even though the polling was marked by violence in some places in the Malabar region, the announcement of results was received by and large with equanimity by all sections.

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