KOCHI: One cannot neglect Eloor municipality while scripting the industrial history of Kerala. Ernakulam got the distinction of being the commercial capital of Kerala owing to the sprawling Eloor-Edayar industrial belt on the banks of the Periyar.
The topic of most of the debates in the municipality has been the industries functioning there and the pollution caused by them. But this year, there is a slight twist in the tale. Due to persistent protests against land, water and air pollution caused by the 200-odd industries, the region is slowly becoming the graveyard for many industrial units. So, pollution issues have taken a backseat now, and given way to campaigns for rescuing the ailing industries in the area, including FACT.
As usual, the main fight in the election to the municipality is between the UDF and the LDF, while the BJP has established its presence. The UDF-led ruling council has 14 seats in the 31-member council. However, the Municipality has seen three chairpersons and a similar number of vice-chairpersons in the past five years.
This time, a confident UDF banks on the developmental activities carried out by the existing council, while the LDF expects the ‘A’-’I’ faction feud in the Congress to act in its favour. The BJP will be looking forward to increase its number from the present three. The agenda of all the three parties is to save the ailing industries and to provide better facilities to the people. Eloor municipal chairperson P M Ayoob is confident that the UDF would get 20 seats easily.
“The number of pensioners in Eloor had been 450 over the past 30 years. When the UDF-led council came into power, the number of pensioners increased to 3,900.
We provided drinking water to all the people in the municipality, by associating with the Kerala Water Authority, FACT and TCC. Also, there has not been any complaint from any quarters with regard to waste treatment,” said Ayoob.
This time, the Congress is contesting in 28 seats in the municipality, and the Muslim League in three seats. Only five members of the sitting council - Joseph Antony, Muhammedali, Shaija Benny, Lissy George and Abubakkar - are contesting this time. Lissy George was the first chairperson of the present council, who was followed by Joseph Antony and P M Ayoob.
However, the LDF is not ready to buy that argument. The Left parties allege that the Congress-led council did not do anything for the municipality as the councillors were busy with ‘groupism’.
“In the past five years, the ‘A’-’I’ faction feud has resulted in the municipality having three different chairpersons and vice-chairpersons each. The most sensitive issue in Eloor is the rescue package for FACT. The Congress has done nothing for the rescue package, despite being in power both at the Centre and in the State. Also, the election will be significantly influenced by rebels. Considering all these factors, we are hopeful of clinching power this time,” said LDF convener in the municipality V S Murali. This time, the CPM is fielding 22 candidates, CPI eight and the CPML-Red Flag one candidate. The BJP is contesting in 27 wards, and is fielding women candidates in 14 wards.
Interestingly, the BJP candidate in ward-10 is a Muslim, a Kudumbashree worker named Abida Nazeer.
“We are confident of winning in 17 wards this time, and to be runner-up in four wards. Our main promise is to provide drinking water to all, ensure proper waste treatment and to solve the pollution issue. Both the UDF and the LDF have been ineffective in achieving these,” said BJP state committee member M K Sadashivan.