Thiruvananthapuram

Electioneering for district panchayat polls fast reaching its culmination

BJP candidate Deepa Navaikulam  

Reaching every nook and corner of their vast divisions, each of which is spread over an area covering more than 50 wards, is a daunting task for candidates in the district panchayat, yet as the campaigning nears its end there is hardly a corner left untouched by the candidates.

On Saturday morning, Geetha Nazeer, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate in the Chemmaruthy division of the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat, was busy with house visits at Decent Mukku near Edava, along with the LDF’s panchayat and block panchayat candidates. Daughter of N.E. Balaram, one of the pioneers of the Communist movement in Kerala, she made it a point to visit old party workers of the area, such as Sharafudeen.

“Earlier, I used to go out and canvas for votes. Now I hardly move out of the house, but I will surely come out to vote,” Mr. Sharafudeen tells her.

Ms. Nazeer feels that the voting public will think only about the developmental initiatives of the State government and the district panchayat over the past five years, when they reach the polling booth.

“All these manufactured controversies are not going to sway them. They can see the good roads, the street lights and the other infrastructure. The Opposition parties are banking on controversies, and have not even put forward an alternative model of development,” she says.

Further away, in the Navaikulam division, the United Democratic Front (UDF) has fielded Sunitha Begum, a local committee member of its ally Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP). A member of the RSP’s women’s wing Aikya Mahila Sangham, she is also a Kudumbashree worker. On Saturday, she was focussing her campaign on houses at 28th Mile.

“The LDF had won in this division last time. When we go on house visits, we hear that the member was hardly ever seen in these parts. The lack of development in this region is there for everyone to see. We are also raising the various issues that the State government is currently embroiled in,” she says.

Road show

At Madavoor in Navaikulam division, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate, Deepa Navaikulam, is leading a road show through a path adjacent to lush paddy fields. Children wearing face masks with the BJP flag welcome her at the junction. A sitting member of the Navaikulam grama panchayat, she feels her performance is good campaign material as she tries to wrest the division.

“In the campaign, I highlight the things that I have achieved during my tenure in the panchayat. During the campaign trail, I have realised that there are a lot of regions facing severe water scarcity. There is also a paucity of good roads,” she says.

The LDF has won consistently in the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat except in 2010, when the UDF had a narrow win. The LDF currently holds 19 out of the 26 divisions in the district panchayat. The BJP, which made its presence felt for the first time in 2015 with a win in the Venganoor division, is taking the fight more seriously this time by fielding its former district president S. Suresh in Venganoor in an attempt to retain the division, and create a wave to win a few others. But Mr. Suresh could have a tough fight on his hands against the UDF’s Bhagath Rufus, son of former district panchayat vice president Rufus Daniel.

The UDF’s confidence is in retaining its strongholds, including Maryapuram and Pallichal, and wresting control in a few more divisions. For the LDF, there are divisions such as Manamboor, Kunnathukal, Chirayinkeezh, and Balaramapuram, where it has never lost. One of the most prestigious battles for the LDF will be to retain Palode, from where the current district panchayat president, V.K. Madhu, won in 2015. In the end, divisions like Kaniyapuram, Poovachal, and Parassala, which have swayed between the LDF and the UDF in successive elections, will prove to be the crucial ones in deciding the winners.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 9:36:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/electioneering-for-district-panchayat-polls-fast-reaching-its-culmination/article33259501.ece

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