Twenty20 Kizhakkambalam, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) wing of Keralaâ€™s prominent industry group Anna-Kitex, had made history in 2015 when it contested in local body election and came to power in Kizhakkambalam gram panchayat in Ernakulam district of Kerala. Five years down the line, the non-political group has once again made it big. This time, they have not only retained the Kizhakkambalam panchayat but has also swept three neighbouring panchayats, too, pushing both LDF and UDF down the list of winners.
In the stellar performance, Twenty20 Kizhakkambalam swept all 14 seats in Aikkaranadu gram panchayat, with most candidates securing a whopping vote share. In the neighbouring Kunnathunad panchayat, the group won in 11 out of 18 seats, and 16 out of 19 seats in Mazhuvannoor panchayat, securing clear majorities to come to power.
In the Kizhakkambalam gram panchayat, where the corporate-backed outfit came to power in the 2015 elections, Twenty20 Kizhakkambalam is leading in all seats with a distinct majority. In seven of the nine wards, where Twenty20 Kizhakkambalam fielded candidates in Vengola gram panchayat, the candidates are leading with a major, appreciable vote share.
Twenty20 Kizhakkambalam is the only corporate group in the state, and apparently, in many other states, that administers local bodies. The Twenty20 had come into the electoral fray by claiming that it will turn the Kizhakambalam panchayat into best panchayat in the country by 2020.
The group had made news after it came to power when it constructed a housing villa in one of the wards of Kizhakkambalam and reconstructed dilapidated old houses in the 'laksham veedu' colony. The food security market established by the group, selling products at 50% discount, had also grabbed a lot of attention.
"People in Kizhakkambalam assessed the administration over the past five years and this is the reward people showered on us for our works. The LDF, UDF, SDPI and Welfare Party were united in attacking and destroying us," said Sabu Jacob, the chief coordinator of Twenty 20.
Twenty20 Kizhakkambalam had also made news recently, when a couple in the Kizhakkambalam panchayat, one of whom works in the Anna-Kitex group, was attacked by the workers of UDF and LDF while they came to a polling booth at Kummanod ward for voting. The video of the couple being attacked in the presence of police officials had gone viral. In the video, the members of the rival parties were seen preventing the couple from casting their votes, dragging them out of the polling station. The UDF and LDF in the region alleged that the couple did not have proper identity proof to cast votes and claimed that was the reason they tried to stop the two. Notably, Twenty20 Kizhakkambalam candidates won in this ward, too.
Incidentally, earlier this year, president of the Kizhakkambalam panchayat, KV Jacob, had stepped down from the post, airing major allegations against Sabu Jacob, the chief of the corporate group. Jacob expressed his displeasure over Sabuâ€™s 'over-indulgenceâ€™ in the governance of the local body. During the election campaign, allegations were raised by the rivals, stating that the CSR group functions autocratically in the panchayat. However, the election results have put away the allegations.
Talking to Asianet News, Sabu Jacob said that the model in Kizhakkambalam panchayat will not be exactly replicated in the other panchayats. "Each panchayat will have its distinct need, we will conduct a study and will implement separate models there," he said.