If the U.S. Presidential election parlance were to be adopted, the 25-member Koothattukulam municipality would qualify as a swing civic body with the mandate fluctuating between the two major fronts.
In the last local body polls, the first since Koothattukulam was elevated to a municipality, none had a decisive majority and the two Congress rebels who won as Independents pretty much made both the United Democratic Front (UDF) that managed 12 seats and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) with 11 seats dance to their tunes.
The five-year term witnessed four different chairpersons as the UDF hung on to power for the first three-and-a-years and the LDF for the rest by keeping both the Independents in good humour, leaving even anti-incumbency in dispute. The UDF lost the house after one of its leaders decamped and one of the Independents, Roy Abraham, switched over to the LDF, which promptly him the chairman.
Things are playing out in an alarmingly similar fashion for the UDF this time too, with two rebel Congressmen throwing their hats in the ring on being denied candidacy. The Congress leadership has been left scrambling to get them to withdraw their nominations on time.
While the LDF had hit the campaign trail running at least a month ago on finalising their candidates, the UDF managed it only after the submission of nominations began. The Congress is contesting in 21 wards and Kerala Congress (Jacob) in three and the Joseph faction of Kerala Congress in one division.
In a local body poll, premature campaigning does no good as it fizzles out by the time it really matters. Besides, the LDF rule could not make any progress in major projects like the construction of a new stadium and the proposed ring road initiated by us, said P.C. Jose, Congress president of Koothattukulam Assembly constituency.
The LDF has fielded 17 CPI(M) candidates, five CPI candidates, and one each from NCP, Jose K. Mani faction of Kerala Congress, and Janadhipathya Kerala Congress. The front remains confident of wresting power on the perceived popularity of the State governments welfare policies such as LIFE Mission, under which an apartment complex for 36 families is being built in Koothattukulam. It has also claimed the proposal for the 8-crore new municipal office, effective waste management, and crematorium among the achievements of the LDFs short term in power.
LDF is in a more formidable position with the arrival of two Kerala Congress factions. Besides, some prominent Congress leaders have joined us. We are confident of winning the municipality this time, said M.R. Surendranath, CPI(M) local committee secretary.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which never had a representative in the civic body, remains hopeful of opening its account this time. We have identified at least five divisions where we have a good chance. We will field our own candidates in our strongholds and either field Independents or back popular Independent candidates in the rest, said N.K. Vijayan, BJP president of the Assembly constituency.