Neck-and-neck race on the cards in Eloor municipality

Rivals LDF, UDF bet on devpt plank, anti-incumbency, respectively
(Representational Image | EPS)
(Representational Image | EPS)

KOCHI: The municipality of Eloor is the largest industrial belt in the state, housing the Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore (FACT), Indian Rare Earths Limited, Hindustan Insecticides Limited (HIL), Travancore Cochin Chemicals and Hindalco. This local body polls, a close battle is on the cards between the LDF and the UDF in the industrial area. While the ruling LDF is pinning hopes on the development projects the outgoing council launched, the UDF is relying on the anti-incumbency factor and the changed political situation after the gold smuggling case hit headlines.

The BJP, meanwhile, is optimistic of denting the prospects of the leading fronts. Though the party did not field candidates in all wards, the leadership is confident of increasing its presence. In 2015, the BJP had two councillors in the municipality. An island hemmed in by two branches of river Periyar, Eloor panchayat was upgraded as a municipality in 2010. The UDF came to power after the first election but saw four chairpersons during its fiveyear tenure because of a factional feud between the ‘A’ and ‘I’ groups of the Congress. In 2015, the LDF wrested power by winning 19 of the 31 seats.

While the BJP won two seats, the UDF bagged the other 10 seats. The LDF is seeking continuity in their governance, highlighting the ‘Clean Eloor’ programme which won national accolades, Municipal Town Hall at Pathalam, houses built for 300 beneficiaries under the state government’s Life Mission project and the decentralised treatment of household waste. C P Usha, the chairperson of the outgoing council, is contesting in ward 17 (Township), her sitting seat.

It is witnessing a triangular fight between the LDF, UDF and the BJP. Posing a threat to the LDF, a rebel from the CPI is contesting there. The Congress too is facing the rebel heat in at least five wards. The LDF was a step ahead of its rivals announcing candidates quickly in all seats. But rivals feel issues within the CPM and the suspension of Sakeer Hussain, the former Kalamassery area secretary, could affect LDF’s chances. “The dissidence in CPM and the current political scenario would help UDF wrest power,” said Shajahan Kavalackal, the Eloor mandalam chairman of the UDF.

“CPM cadre themselves are dissatisfied with the outgoing council. The LDF is making big claims that they realised several projects. They had only constructed a few buildings. The Community Hall inaugurated six months ago hasn’t been opened as it is unfinished.” Shajahan expressed confidence of the UDF winning around 20 seats. At the same time, Shyamalan T V of the CPM, the LDF election committee secretary, rubbished reports of dissidence in the CPM.

“The party and LDF are unitedly working for the victory of our candidates in all 31 seats. It is UDF which is caught in factional feud and the rebel menace,” he said. BJP leader K R Krishna Prasad said,”Last time, we lost a couple of seats by less than 15 votes. We lost ward 30 (Headquarters West) by just one vote. We will increase our seats to 10-12.”

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