KERALA

Independents likely to prop up UDF

BJP a major force in several grama panchayats

Staff Reporter

ALAPPUZHA: The Chengannur Assembly constituency in the eastern part of Alappuzha district, which withstood the LDF wave that swept the local body

polls in the district, stands out in many respects vis-a-vis the emerging political scenario in central Travancore.

While the UDF stood ground in the local bodies here, the BJP has emerged as a force to reckon with in many grama panchayats. It is noteworthy that the Congress consolidated its influence in Chengannur in spite of Shobhana George who recently resigned as MLA and joined the Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran).

The UDF has won an absolute majority in Chengannur municipality and Puliyoor and Venmony panchayats. In the panchayats of Thiruvanvandoor, Pandanad and Aala, no front has secured absolute majority. But, the Independents who won seats in all the three panchayats are likely to support the UDF enabling it to come to power in the panchayats.

Interestingly, the Independents who won from these panchayats are members of BJP, who contested in symbols other than lotus, the official symbol of the BJP.

Even the BJP State committee member K.S. Rajan contested as Independent in Pandanad grama panchayat.

The BJP has four members in the 12-member Thiruvanvandoor grama panchayat. The Congress has five members here and a strategic understanding between the parties could enable the Congress to come to power. Similarly, the BJP, which has three members in Pandanad panchayat and two members in Aala panchayat, can help the UDF gain power in these panchayats. As a majority of the BJP members who won in the above panchayats contested as Independents, the UDF will not have any trouble in accepting the support of the Independents.

Of the four members of the Congress in Alappuzha district council, two are from divisions that come under the Chengannur Assembly constituency. The

Congress candidates have won from Mulakkuzha and Mannar district panchayat divisions here.

While CPI(M) leaders allege that there was a covert understanding between the UDF and the BJP in the local body elections, the Congress leaders deny it. The UDF election campaign that was led by Alappuzha DCC secretary Abey Kuriakkose seems to have succeeded in winning back some workers who had left the Congress along with Ms. Shobhana. As per the results, the DIC(K) could not make any significant impact in the results in the constituency.

However, the possibility of local-level seat adjustments between the BJP and the UDF could not be ruled out. The BJP seems to have succeeded in winning the anti-Marxist middle class votes of even minority communities in many parts here. Christians constitute a major chunk of middle class voters here along with Nairs and Ezhavas. The BJP has also won seats in several local bodies in the eastern part of Alappuzha district, which include Mavelikara municipality and the panchayats of Chennithala and Tazhakkara.

The elections to the post of presidents of several local bodies here would throw up situations that would necessitate new political combinations. Will these combinations lead to new alliances in the region in the future is an interesting question which needs to seriously studied by the political parties.

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