While panchayat elections are invariably rooted in ward-specific, hyperlocal candidates and issues, as they are mostly fought on political lines, the results will have profound insights into some of the underground political currents in Kerala and how they will potentially form before the Assembly elections.
For one, these elections will be a litmus test for the two major congressional factions of Kerala – KC (M) led by Jose K Mani and the KC (J) led by PJ Joseph who will fight at opposite ends of the political spectrum and which dividends they will have to pay to the respective coalitions LDF and UDF. The winner will have more bargaining power over the allocation of seats next year.
Secondly, the survey results especially in the northern districts of Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod will indicate whether the UDF’s decision to have an “ understanding ” with the Welfare Party of India, supported by Jamaat-e-Islami, in some areas it paid off. It will highlight the broader question of whether secular parties like Congress are playing a dangerous game by allying themselves with forces like the Jamaat.
Third, as the CPM leaders themselves pointed out, the polls will be seen as a referendum on the governance and welfare initiatives of the Pinarayi Vijayan government for four and a half years and on the popularity of the prime minister himself to support. votes for his party. There is no doubt that the discovery of the gold smuggling scam in July, the arrest of the chief secretary of the CM, the interrogation of one of its ministers by central agencies, the irregularities in the housing program and the move to introduce draconian amendments to the Kerala police law and then withdrawn under public pressure have all tainted the government’s image. It remains to be seen whether these problems were a factor in the minds of the voters.
Four, this is the first election the BJP has faced under its new state president, K Surendran, who took office in February of this year. Inspired by its performance in the Bihar Assembly elections and the Hyderabad municipal elections, the party will want to improve its share of votes from the paltry 13.28% it achieved in 2015 and even gain control of some major local authorities. Getting his own mayor in Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur societies are his priorities, even if the task is not easy.