Kerala

Parties bitten by urban electorate bug

Mainstream political parties have been ostensibly bitten by the urban electorate bug, especially in the six Corporations, in the upcoming local body polls in Kerala.

The no-holds-barred campaigning in the cities indicates that the elections are doubly prestigious for all parties — be it the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Congress, and the Bharatiya Janata Party which are leading the three major fronts. Apart from political preferences, poll managers are trying to gauge the undercurrents, if any, including that of a communal polarisation in a three-cornered contest.

Two factors

The glaring difference in voter turnout between the rural and urban electorate (turnout more in rural areas) in the past elections has given the impression of candidates going full throttle in the Corporation divisions. Also, there is the unfolding COVID-19 situation in the State.

In Thiruvananthapuram, the Left Democratic Front (LDF), which is striving to retain power, is combating the BJP, which finished second with 34 seats in the 100-member council last time. The LDF had 42 seats while the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) got 21 seats. The rest were Independents.

V4 Kochi

The UDF appears to be riding tall in the saddle in Kochi despite drawing flak for its failure in governance and municipal services. The coalition has been in power for a decade after dislodging the CPI(M) that ruled the Corporation for 32 years continuously. In 2015, the UDF won 38 seats in the 74-member council. The LDF had 23 councillors, the BJP two, and Independents 11. However, the UDF and the LDF, apart from facing rebel menace, have to confront a new organisation, V4 Kochi, quietly making inroads into the urban electorate.

Notwithstanding the realignment of political forces on different occasions, Left parties have been in power in the Kozhikode Corporation for nearly four decades. Their leaders believe that the electorate favours them even if the Congress-Indian Union Muslim League combine is throwing a bigger scare this time or the BJP heightening its electioneering. In the previous polls, the LDF had 47 seats, UDF 20, and the BJP seven.

Voter apathy

The Corporations of Thrissur and Kollam, formed in 2000, and Kannur (formed in 2015) are also not immune to voter apathy. Politically, the LDF has an upper hand in the 55-member Kollam Corporation whereas a neck-and-neck contest is on the cards in Thrissur, also having 55 divisions. The picture is hazy in Kannur though the UDF traditionally has an edge.

However, the performance of the BJP in the urban pockets will certainly impact both fronts, as also the turnout of neutral urban voters to exercise their franchise.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 1:03:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/parties-bitten-by-urban-electorate-bug/article33260371.ece

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