KOCHI: As the campaigning for the civic polls entered the last lap, the parties and fronts are busy ensuring each vote and convincing every citizen. Though the popular appeal of individual candidates does matter a lot, national and state-level political issues and the changing perception of parties, along with the shifting poll agendas, will make a lot of difference in the polls.
The key strategists of each front are keenly watching the groundswells, changes in perception, issues that matter in each locality and have already calculated the prospects of each candidate.
The last-minute push would be based on these evaluations. It is widely perceived that the civic elections are the semi-finals of the Assembly polls. For the LDF and the UDF, it is a matter of gaining or retaining power. And the BJP is testing waters.
Despite rebel trouble that remains a perennial headache for the Congress and the UDF, District Congress president V J Paulose exudes confidence that the UDF will repeat its victory run in various local bodies of the district, including the City Corporation. “The situation is in favour of the UDF. And we will repeat the victory of 2010,” the DCC president said, evaluating the performance of the front in the campaigning. Asked about the rebel trouble, the Congress leader said that it was not new to his party. “Congress has learned to live with it. Even some former councillors have fielded themselves as rebels. But they will not affect the prospects of the UDF.”
We have no special strategies, and we do not usually bank on them. We will walk the talk and will not give false promises,” said Poulose.
C K Manishankar, one of the key strategists of the LDF, is confident of an LDF comeback in the Corporation and of keeping the UDF at bay in the district. The major reasons behind his confidence, according to Manishankar, is the failure of the UDF leaders to connect with the people on the ground and their failure to bring development to the grassroots. “They (the UDF leadership) are not familiar with a decentralised working culture and the common folk, the Kudumbashree and residents’ associations are angry at the UDF,” he said.
The LDF’s confidence is also boosted by the high representation of qualified youngsters in its squad. If the Christian church abstains from taking a political stand, it will further boost the prospects of the LDF in the district in general and in the City Corporation in particular, calculates the front leadership.
The BJP has lost its steam and will lose its sitting seats in the City Corporation. The SNDP tie-up with the BJP is not going to bear fruits here. Out of the 71 BJP candidates, only 15 are from the Ezhava community,” said Manishankar. Though the beef controversy has dampened the prospects of the BJP, the party hopes to make considerable headway in the district.
“We will emerge as a key player in many civic bodies, including the Corporation,” said K P Rajan, acting president of the BJP in the district. “Our latest calculation is that we will win six divisions each in Kochi City Corporation and in Tripunithura municipality,” he added.
The BJP leadership admits that the beef controversy has indeed taken off the earlier edge the party had in the district, where more than 10,500 members from minority communities joined the party during its membership campaign. “The poll result will help us make a correct and comprehensive evaluation of our support base and will help us to prepare better for the Assembly polls,” said Rajan.