The people’s group was formed to protest the unmet demands for a protective sea wall in Chellanam. It has now become a crucial deciding factor in the gram panchayat.

Chellanam 20/20 team posing for a selfie wearing mask.Chellanam 20/20 Team
news Kerala Local Body Polls 2020 Thursday, December 17, 2020 - 10:18

Chellanam 20/20, the people’s group in Chellanam gram panchayat at West Kochi in Ernakulam district, was an uprising that was always waiting to happen, among the people who had been enduring the havoc of coastal erosion for so long. The group, which sprouted a few months back, following years-long unmet demands of people for a protective sea wall, has now become a crucial decisive factor which will decide who will administer this gram panchayat. Candidates of the Chellanam 20/20 won eight out of the 21 wards in the local body, just trailing behind Left Democratic Front which won nine seats but failed to secure a majority.

With the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) just securing four seats and BJP’s National Democratic Front (NDA) winning no seats, Chellanam 20/20 has become a crucial factor for either of the political front’s to get the majority mark of 11 seats. In 2015, LDF had won 13 seats, UDF seven seats and BJP one.

“Though we did not get a clear majority, ours is a major victory. In Chellanam, the contest was between political parties and the people. And we can clearly say that the people have won,” Charles Biju aka Pavizham Biju, president of Chellanam 20/20, told TNM.

Chellanam gram panchayat is one of the coastal regions in Kerala that face severe coastal erosion since the past many years. Major parts of the panchayat get flooded due to coastal erosion at least twice a year.

Read: After Kitex, Chellanam 20/20 to contest local body polls in Kerala

The demand to construct a sea wall in pockets where the sea wall is in ruins had gained momentum in 2017 when the Ockhi cyclone hit the region, damaging hundreds of houses. Though the state government promised to build a sea wall in the areas which lacked one, the construction which started two years afterwards is still incomplete.

“This mandate is people’s protest towards the political parties which have failed to meet the demands of poor people here,” added Biju. He also said that the group is yet to decide whether or not to extend support to political fronts in the local body.

Read: ‘Trapped between COVID-19 and sea erosion’: Kerala boy writes moving letter to President Kovind

Meanwhile, in the neighbouring Kochi Corporation where the independent group V4Kochi fielded candidates, it was able to grab a good vote share in a few crucial wards.

The group, which came forward calling out the corruption of the Congress-led UDF which ruled the Kochi Corporation since the past 10 years, pulled down the UDF in Palarivattom division to the third position by securing second place.

Palarivattom is the hotspot of the controversial flyover scam. Former Minister and senior UDF leader Ebrahim Kunju is accused of corruption during the construction of the flyover which is now being reconstructed after major cracks appeared on the structure.

V4Kochi also came second in position grabbing fair vote share in two more wards -- Nasrathu and Ayyappan Kavu.

Meanwhile, in Kannur district’s Taliparamba Municipality, where ‘Vayal Kilikal’, a group of farmers who shot to fame following agitations against land acquisition, fielded one of their candidates, lost the polls. P Latha, one of the leaders of Vayal Kilikal who contested from Ward 30 Keezhattoor of the Left bastion Taliparamba lost to CPI(M) candidate by 140 votes.

Also Read: 

The big losses in Kerala local body polls 2020

Twenty20 expands beyond its bastion Kizhakkambalam, wins 3 more Kerala panchayats

Thiruvananthapuram Corporation: How Congress got pushed to the third place

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