The first phase of Kerala local-self-government institutions polls will be held on Tuesday. With the Kerala Assembly elections imminent early next year, the local body polls in the state will act as a semifinal of sports between the two major political fronts in the state – the ruling LDF (Left Democratic Front) and UDF (United Democratic Front). The polls will also be a litmus test for the BJP to check whether it has strengthened its voter base in the state.
Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki districts will go to the polls in the first phase. The second phase will be held on December 10 while the third one will be held on December 14. The counting will be held on December 16. Of the total 1,200 local bodies, the elections will be held for 1199 local bodies except the Mattannur Municipality in Kannur district that follows a different election calendar.
The elections will be held for 941 Grama Panchayats, 152 Block Panchayats, 14 District Panchayats, 86 Municipalities and six Municipal Corporations. A total of 2.7 crore people will cast their votes. With 50% reservation for women, there are 36,305 women in the fray.
Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kozhikode, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Kannur and Kozhikode are six municipal corporations. Out of this the CPI(M) led Left Democratic Front is in power in all MCs except Ernakulam. The LDF bagged seven of the 14 District Panchayats, 44 of the 87 municipalities in the 2015 elections. The UDF won 41 municipalities, seven District Panchayats and two corporations. BJP won 51 Corporation, 236 Municipality, 933 Grama Panchayat, 21 Block Panchayat and three District Panchayat wards. The party's 'prestigious' victory was in the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, where it pushed the Congress to the third place. The BJP secured 34 of the 100 seats while the LDF won 42 seats.
The major issues raised both by the Congress and the BJP against the government are – the gold smuggling case for the alleged link of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar; the controversies surrounding the Life Mission Project – the Kerala government’s housing scheme for the poor; and the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIFFBI). The Left has accused the opposition Congress of having a secret alliance with the BJP and has highlighted the welfare schemes for the poor and the developmental activities like the completion of the pipeline of Gas Authority of India in the state.
The number of women candidates in this election is 36,305 while that in the 2015 elections was 38,268. The number of male candidates is 38,593, up from 37,281 in the 2015 elections. One transgender person is also contesting the elections this year. The number of male voters in 2015 was 12,058,262 while in 2020 this is 12,925,766. The corresponding figure of female voters is 13,050,163 and 14,194,725.
This is the sixth election to the decentralised tiers of the local bodies. The decentralisation that brought about a drastic change in the role of local-self-government institutions was introduced in 1996 when the LDF was in power.