Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 12: With just over a fortnight left for civic polls in Kerala, widely seen as a dress rehearsal for assembly elections due in May 2016, political parties are racing against time to finalise candidates for more than 21,000 wards.
The stakes are high for the ruling Congress led UDF, CPI(M) headed LDF and also for BJP to seven corporations, 86 municipalities, 941 gram panchayats, 152 block panchayats and 14 district panchayats in the two phase polls, to be held on November 2 and 5.
The total number of wards going to polls are 21,905. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has been oozing confidence, asserting that the poll results would be a referendum on the nearly five-year-old UDF government that came to power on the poll plank of 'development and care'.
Besides local issues, a slew of corruption charges like bar bribery and solar scam have been taken by LDF to attack the government.
Though there are disputes among partners in UDF and LDF on seat sharing in several districts, talks are in the final stages to arrive at a consensus as only three days are left for filing of nominations. Scrutiny will take place on November 15.
BJP, which so far failed to taste success in assembly and parliament polls in Kerala, is going full steam ahead with its newly found 'friend' Sree Narayana Dharama Paripalana Yogam, an organisation of numerically strong backward Ezhava community, led by its powerful general secretary Vellapally Natesan. In the last civic polls, BJP came to power only in four gram panchayats.
This time it is harbouring hopes of breaking the bi-polar politics of the state, led by UDF and LDF. UDF constituents are Congress, Indian Union Muslim League, Kerala Congress(M), Socialist Janata dal Democratic, RSP and Kerala Congress(J).
It also has support of faction in CMP and JSS. In the Left front, besides lead partner, CPI(M), CPI, NCP, Congress (S), JD(U), are the other constituents. In the 2010 civic polls, UDF won Kochi and Thrissur corporations and LDF bagged the prestigious Thiruvanthapuram, Kozhikode and Kollam.
BJP won just nine corporation wards. A new corporation that will go to the polls with the existing six this time is Kannur. Of the 59 municipalities that went to polls in 2010, UDF won 39 and LDF the remaining 20.
As per municipality ward results, UDF won in 1097 wards, LDF in 803 and BJP in 79. The United Democratic Front won 582 Grama panchayat seats, LDF 384 and BJP four.
Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Idukki, Kozhikode, Kannur, Waynad, Kasaragod districts will go to the polls on November 2, while Kottayam, Alapuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram and Palakkad districts will face the polls on November 5. Counting will be held on November 7.