Kochi

Agrarian Piravom set for political slugfest

Battle lines have been drawn between rival fronts in the largely agrarian Piravom municipality with the Left Democratic Front (LDF) optimistic of tapping into the anti-incumbency sentiment to dislodge the United Democratic Front (UDF) while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is looking to further its footprint exploiting the perceived popular discontent against the two fronts.

The UDF coasted to victory in the first local body polls held five years ago after Piravom panchayat was upgraded into a municipality, cornering 15 of the 27 divisions while LDF had to contend with a mere 9 divisions.

Perceived to be its stronghold where the LDF’s last victory dates back 15 years ago, UDF remains confident of bucking anti-incumbency to return to power. The Congress is set to contest in 20 seats while the Jacob and Joseph factions of the Kerala Congress have been allocated five and two seats respectively.

The local Congress leadership was dismissive of the impact of the KC(M) led by Jose K. Mani hopping over to the LDF. “Even otherwise, they had little influence in the municipality and were hardly a factor in UDF’s electoral plans,” said Shaju Elanjimattom, president of the Congress Piravom Assembly constituency, who predicted that the UDF would win at least three divisions more than what it had managed in the last poll.

The LDF, however, foresees a congenial atmosphere to bounce back into power, riding on the popular discontent against the incumbent front for its perceived failure on all fronts. “The last five years of municipal rule were of development stagnation marked by corruption and nepotism in contrast to the development and welfare-oriented policies of the State government. For a largely agrarian society, the UDF dispensation did nothing about hundreds of acres of fallow land. Even the government’s flagship project LIFE Mission for the homeless wasn’t implemented in the municipality,” said K. R. Narayanan Namboodiri, secretary, CPI(M) local committee, Piravom, who feels that the presence of KC(M) will help the cause of the LDF.

The CPI(M) is contesting in 18 divisions, CPI in 6, KC(M) in 2 and Janata Dal in 1. Both the major Left parties gave up a seat each to accommodate the KC(M).

Having won two divisions in the last poll, the BJP remains confident of at least a three-fold gain, having managed to wean away a couple of discontented Congress leaders whom they are fielding as their candidates. “We have been focussing on at least six divisions where we stand a very good chance and we are fielding local residents in the respective divisions, unlike the other two fronts who have fielded outsiders,” Prabha Prashanth, president of the BJP Piravom Assembly constituency.

He also remains hopeful of tapping into the alleged frayed relations between the CPI(M) and the CPI in the municipality.

“That is just a pipe dream. There is no disagreement between us and we remain as united as ever,” said Thankachan K.P., CPI local committee secretary, Piravom.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 9:14:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/agrarian-piravom-set-for-political-slugfest/article33163885.ece

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