The left-led ruling coalition in Kerala and the opposition were locked in a close fight today in the first hints of local government polls seen as a litmus test for parties ahead of next year’s state assembly elections. .
The ruling Democratic Left Front (LDF) leads in 402 of the 945 Grama Panchayat or village panchayat and the 343rd Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), making it a close fight.
The votes are counted for the seats of 941 gram panchayat, 152 block panchayat, 14 district panchayat, 86 municipalities and six companies.
In 2015 the LDF had won in most of the local authorities. In the district panchayats, the UDF and LDF were seven each.
This time, the campaign for the polls saw the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the UDF fight over the state’s coronavirus crisis and a gold smuggling case in which Prime Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office was involved in corruption allegations. The LDF denied the allegations and campaigned around its development schemes.
In the key Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, a close triangular fight has emerged in which the LDF is leading in 20 of the 100 wards, with the NDA led by the BJP in 13 and the UDF in four. By 2015, the LDF had won 42 wards and the BJP alliance had pushed the UDF to third place after winning 34 seats.
The BJP tries to gain a foothold in the state before the state elections. BJP’s Kerala leader K Surendran says his party will emerge as the dark horse in this election. The LDF accuses the BJP of using central agencies to target the state government with probes such as the gold smuggling case or the state government’s flagship housing program.