The ruling Left-led coalition in Kerala and the opposition were locked in a close contest today in early leads from local body polls seen as a litmus test for parties ahead of assembly elections in the state next year.
The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) is leading in 402 of 945 Grama Panchayats or village panchayats and the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in 343, making it a tight fight.
Votes are being counted for seats in 941 gram panchayats, 152 block panchayats, 14 district panchayats, 86 municipalities and six corporations.
In 2015, the LDF had won in most of the local bodies. In district panchayats, the UDF and LDF were at seven each.
This time, the campaign for the polls saw the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the UDF sparring over the state’s coronavirus crisis and a gold smuggling case in which Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office has been drawn into corruption allegations. The LDF rubbished the allegations and campaigned around its development schemes.
In the key Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, a close triangular fight has emerged in which the LDF is leading in 20 of 100 wards, with the BJP-led NDA ahead in 13 and the UDF in four. In 2015, the LDF had won 42 wards and the BJP alliance had pushed the UDF to the third position after winning 34 seats.
The BJP seeks to gain a foothold in the state ahead of the state elections. BJP’s Kerala chief K Surendran says his party will emerge as the dark horse in these elections. The LDF accuses the BJP of using central agencies to target the state government with probes like the gold smuggling case or the state government’s flagship housing programme.