KOCHI:The dust has finally settled down after the intense campaign held over nearly three weeks and Kochiites will cast their votes on Thursday to decide who will be holding the reins of the Smart 'Kochi' for the next five years. For both the leading fronts, LDF and UDF, it is crucial to get the majority in the Corporation, which has already become the centre of attraction because of the capital-intensive Kochi Metro Rail project, which is being highlighted as the visible example of 'development politics'.
The Kochi Metro Rail will be the key project that will be highlighted in next year's Assembly polls too by the UDF as it was during the tenure of Oommen Chandy that the construction activities of the much-hyped project began. Hence, it is important for LDF to get the administrative power back in the Corporation which they surrendered to UDF in 2010 after three decades.
In 2010 elections, out of the total 74 divisions, the UDF had won 46 seats, LDF 23 and BJP two. Three independent candidates had also won in that elections, out of whom two later joined UDF. The Congress had majority on its own by winning 39 seats. "This year, the UDF is expecting 39 or 40 seats and the front believes that it will retain power. Anything above this will be a bonus as it is tough competition in most of the seats. Adding to the woes of Congress is the rebel menace," according to a party functionary.
This year, the Congress is contesting in 58 divisions and there are rebels in 30 of them, which is affecting the chances of its candidates. “We cannot predict whether the rebels will win in the divisions from which they are contesting. Last year, two rebel candidates had won in the Corporation elections; but, remember, a section of the Congress party had supported them. That is why they stayed with UDF after winning the elections. This year, no such support will be there for the rebels,” said a top functionary of the Congress.
Meanwhile, LDF, which is wrestling to regain control over the Corporation, is also expecting 40 seats, a thin majority. ''For the LDF, the rebel menace is less compared to the UDF,” according to the leaders of the front.
For this election, the total number of voters in the Corporation limit is 4,08,941, an increase of around 10,000 voters from 2010.
The BJP, which had contested in 40 seats in the 2010 elections, has fielded candidates in 67 seats this year. “The increase in the number of candidates may help them in increasing their share of votes. However, the performance of BJP-SNDP alliance will be a crucial factor which will affect the final result,” according to experts.
They also pointed out another interesting factor - national politics was discussed widely in the local body polls. “Both LDF and UDF, for the first time in the history of Kochi, jointly attacked the stance taken by BJP on many issues that happened in north India like Dadri issue. On the other hand, there are also chances for the BJP to improve its performance based on support of Modi fans, the development agenda of the Union Government and the SNDP alliance,” they pointed out.
The performance of rebels, individual stature of the candidates and the BJP-SNDP alliance are the three major decisive factors, they said.