Kerala local body polls: Apolitical forces brace for fight
Kerala local body polls: Kerala is bracing up to hold polls for its three-tier local body system in December amid COVID-19
More than 2.71 crore voters will be heading to 34,744 polling booths in Kerala in December to cast their votes to elect representatives in the state’s local governing body elections. The state election commission has outlined a mammoth election plan for Kerala’s three-tier local body system in three phases starting from December 8 to December 14. Votes are scheduled to be counted on December 16.
Even as the state is largely dominated by the three principal political fronts, this election is particularly crucial because of its unprecedented apolitical nature at the micro-local level. From Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram, a number of non-political groups including businessmen, residents associations, political movements and registered societies have fielded their candidates for the local body polls across all districts in the state.
Notably, Kerala has three key political coalitions which include the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
According to experts, people have comprehended that traditional political parties cannot effectively work for local issues and key problems get neglected. It has also been observed at people involved in local development politics are looking for alternatives to CPM, Congress and BJP in a bid to take democracy directly to regional communities.
Many of the candidates fielded in Kerala’s local body elections are reportedly dependent on crowdfunding and their accessibility and familiarity with the community and local issues.
One such registered society is V4Kochi, which has fielded its candidates in all 74 divisions of the Kochi Municipal Corporation. In another instance, people who resisted a mining project in Kozhikode’s Kottur are contesting in the Panchayat election.
Over the period of time, a number of such successful models have emerged in the state contesting in the local body polls with the aim of addressing regional issues.
As per reports, more than 1.68 candidates have filed their nominations for the elections to 1200 local self-governing bodies which include 41 gram panchayats, 152 block panchayats, 14 district panchayats, 86 municipalities and six municipal corporations spread across 14 districts in the state of Kerala.
With the COVID-19 restricting door-to-door campaigning, social media has taken over the conventional election campaign. From developing digital interactive posters of candidates to mobilising web-based solution facilities, Kerala’s local body polls are witnessing a full-fledged digital war among candidates.
Contest for the 100-seat Thiruvananthapuram municipal corporation is likely to grab significant attention in the political discourse noting that it witnessed an intense triangular battle between UDF, LDF and BJP in the 2015 polls.
While the polls were initially scheduled to take place in October, a surge in Coronavirus cases forced the state election commission to defer the elections. Now, the local body polls will take place in compliance with precautionary measures including wearing face masks and maintaining physical distancing in line with the efforts to limit the spread of Coronavirus infections.