After 10 years of UDF rule, clear edge for LDF in Kochi Corporation polls

‘Governance failures’ like waterlogging, bad roads and waste disposal to affect UDF’s chances

Published: 09th December 2020 05:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th December 2020 06:12 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: The Left Democratic Front (LDF), which had ruled Kochi corporation for two decades from 1989 to 2010, has the edge in the civic polls, thanks to ‘governance failures’ resulting from repeated waterlogging, garbage menace and more importantly, anti-incumbency against the decade-long Congress-led UDF ruling council.

Adding to the UDF’s woes are the 15 rebel candidates in the fray, with the corporation scheduled to go to the polls on Thursday. This is also a crucial factor as the UDF had only a slim margin of four seats  in the outgoing  corporation council — UDF (37) and LDF (34). LDF’s mayoral candidate M Anilkumar too is another factor that could swing the outcome in favour of the LDF, analysts said.  

“Waterlogging will be a major issue in this corporation election. It were the same bad roads and waterlogging that put an end to the LDF rule nearly a decade ago,” said D Dhanuraj, chairman, CPPR, a city-based think-tank.A similar trend was witnessed during the last byelection in Ernakulam. “UDF’s T J Vinodh  managed to retain the Ernakulam assembly seat by a narrow margin of 3,673 votes. If voting percentage is low, it will adversely affect the UDF further. The influence of BJP and V4Kochi  too will prove a headache to the UDF,” said Dhanuraj. 

It should not be forgotten that the LDF had bowed out in 2010 after it failed to address the perennial issue of waterlogging and mosquito menace. But, it also remains a fact that the UDF too could not do anything on the issue during its decade-long rule. The BJP-led NDA, which currently has two seats in the council, is confident of increasing its tally to six.

G Gopakumar, former dean and head of Social Sciences, Kerala University, however, said the candidates’ connect with the voters is what matters mostly in the local body elections. “Local body elections are contested mainly on the basis of personality and track record of individual candidates. In most cases, people will never consider state-level political issues while voting in the local body elections,” he said.

Dhanuraj said the projection of mayoral candidate will also play a decisive role in deciding the winner. “The projection of mayoral candidates of both the fronts will play a decisive role among the public,” he reckons. The fact that there are a few allegations against the UDF’s mayoral candidate N Venugopal will impact the results. 

Rebel candidates are a menace for both fronts.Some prominent rebels faced by the UDF include Gracy Joseph, Deleena Pinhero and Mary Kalista Prakasan. Even UDF ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) is facing rebel threat. Senior IUML leader T K Ashraf is contesting as an independent after being denied a party ticket since he had served two terms. LDF rebels include former mayor K J Sohan, who is contesting under the Loktantrik Janata Dal, Preethy K H, Bindu Levin and Jayanthi Premnath. In the 2015 elections, UDF had won seven seats by a slim margin of around 100 votes, which enabled it to come to power in the corporation. Taking this into consideration, the LDF has focused on these divisions by fielding candidates who have a strong influence among the public. A section of Congress voters is also upset with the factional feud in the party, which started with the attempts by the district Congress committee to replace Mayor Soumini Jain.  “Instead of implementing  development-oriented projects, the UDF wasted time on inner party issues. People elect a party to rule for five years and not for two-and-a-half years,” said a senior citizen who requested anonymity.


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