As curtains came down on an intense campaign for the local body election in the district on Saturday, both the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) exuded confidence of winning the people's mandate.
While the LDF is banking on the plank of good governance and the rebel menace in the opposition ranks, UDF is pinning its hopes on the perceived apathy of the people towards the LDF governance at the State and local bodies and its new found allies. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on the other hand, is confident of improving its performance with the support of the people disillusioned by the performance of both the fronts.
Talking to The Hindu CPI (M) district secretary Gopi Kottamurikkal said that the initial apprehensions over the departure of the Kerala Congress (Joseph) and the Janata Dal from the LDF and the absence of DIC(K), which played a significant role in the LDF victory in the last elections, were laid to rest through the course of the campaigning.
“While the leaders of the Kerala Congress (Joseph) may have left the LDF, grassroots-level workers are still with us as they find it difficult to campaign for the Congress after opposing it for the last two decades,” Mr. Kottamurikkal explained. He added that the LDF was confident of retaining the eastern regions of the district where the Kerala Congress enjoys sizable influence.
Meanwhile, District Congress Committee president V.J. Paulose has no doubt that the anger of the public over “the utter failure of the LDF rule at the State and the local bodies” would reflect in the election outcome. Asked whether the war of words between the Church and the CPI (M) would benefit the UDF, he said that opposition of all sections of the society to the Marxist party would favour the UDF. “We have been very systematic in campaigning and there is unprecedented unity in the front,” Mr. Paulose told The Hindu.
Mr. Kottamurikkal countered this saying that this was an election without any anti-incumbency factor while claiming that the UDF faced rebels in 24 out of the 74 Corporation divisions. The Congress and the Kerala Congress factions were at loggerheads in many places, he added.
He was also confident of the support of the Muslim minority for the effective investigation into the incident of the chopping of the palm of T.J. Joseph thus freeing the majority of the community members from the shadow of doubt.
Unperturbed, Mr. Paulose claimed that the UDF will secure simple majority in the district panchayat besides coming to power in the Kochi Corporation for the first time in three decades. “We will win eight municipalities out of the 11 and 65 per cent of the seats in the grama and block panchayats,” he said.
Mr. Kottamurikkal, on the other hand, had no doubt that the LDF will prevail in 18 out of the 26 divisions in the district panchayat and eight municipalities. “LDF will win two third majority in the Corporation and CPI (M) will have simple majority. We will also win 66 out of the 84 grama panchayats and 11 of 14 block panchayats,” he said.
BJP district president P.J. Thomas said that the number of party representatives in the local bodies would increase fourfold from the existing 17. “We launched a systematic campaign ahead of the other fronts. Besides, the campaign is more focused this time since unlike in the past we have fielded candidates only in areas where we have influence,” he said.
Mr. Thomas said that BJP will have crucial influence in many grama panchayats besides opening account in block panchayats. He also said that party will have more than one representative in the Corporation. Mr. Thomas hopes of having at least six representatives in the newly formed Eloor municipality.