Kerala Civic Body By-Polls: LDF bagging 21 out of 39, with Congress winning 11, SDPI 3 and BJP 2 wards prove that communal politics will not work in Kerala
Kerala Civic By-Poll Results: CPM led LDF bags 21 out of 39 wards, BJP ends with just two seats and falls on its own Hindutva bait
The agenda of the BJP to polarise the society of Kerala did not gain any tangible gain, if the results of the just released Local Body by-polls were anything to go by. Due to various reasons, there were 39 seats vacant in Kerala’s local bodies including 27 panchayat wards, six municipality wards, five block panchayat wards and a solitary corporation ward across 14 districts.
When the by-election results came, Sabarimala issue went into back-burner and the literate people saw through the vicious agenda played by both the BJP and the Congress playing to the gallery. When the results were announced, the LDF had won hands down 21 seats, Congress came a distant second with winning eleven seats and the BJP, getting relegated to the fourth pole position and be content with just two seats, losing the third position to SDPI, which won three seats.
The win vindicates that the stand taken by the ruling LDF in Kerala on the vexed Sabarimala issue, following the Supreme Court ruling was right and under the law, whatever is possible, the government did and prevented the escalation of violence. Besides managing to win only two seats, the BJP ceded its sitting seat to the LDF and ironically in Pathanamthitta, where the hill shrine of Sabarimala too is situated.
When the LDF won 21 wards, it was a clean sweep in Trishoor winning all the five seats it contested, In the northern region, the LDF won two out of four wards, Kozhikode too it won the sole seat it contested and in Malappuram it bagged two seats out of the four wards. In Alapuzha, thought the LDF could only gain a single ward out of the five wards where by-election was held and in Palakkad district it contested in two wards and won it too.
Though, it was a civic body by-poll, the campaign was as vociferous as the Lok Sabha election, to say the least. The fiery campaign by the BJP on the Sabarimala issue went in vain. Though, the Congress-led United Democratic Fund managed to win double digit by winning in eleven wards, however, the party’s biggest embarrassment was losing out its seat Pathanamthita municipality to its own rebel candidate. The result signified the procrastination and different stands the party took in terms of issues such as Sabarimala and the intelligent voters read through the whole game plan and gave a fitting response.
At the time of campaigning, both the BJP and Congress thought it was a forgone conclusion that the LDF will not even bag a single seat due to the Sabarimala standoff, while the LDF camp, unmindful of other parties’ campaign rhetoric, went about the campaigning with utmost seriousness and the cadre worked full time convincing the voters about the secular stand taken by the Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan by just following the SC ruling and acted upon it. It worked with the voters realised the game plan and gave a befitting reply in Pathanamthitta, where the two seats were won by an independent (read Congress rebel) and a candidate fielded by the SDPI. The polarisation agenda might work elsewhere, but not in Kerala and that is what the clear message, with the local body by-poll verdict proved.
When the BJP and Congress-led UDF were trying to fish in the proverbial fishing in the troubled waters, apart from the LDF, another beneficiary was the SDPI, who improved its tally by adding one more seat. Earlier, the party had only one seat. Even independent candidates three wards in comparision to BJP’s tally of two seats. The writing on the wall is clear. Unleashing violence under the garb of religious sentiments won’t win them seats, rather let these political parties talk about reviving Kerala from the damage caused by floods. An important point to be noted is the fact that this is the first ever poll happening in Kerala after the Supreme Court ruling on the entry of women in Sabarimala of all ages came a couple of months back. So, this was kind of litmus test for both the ruling LDF as well as for the UDF and the result of an experiment by the BJP whether it can gain entry in Kerala through polarising methodology. The secular nature of Kerala cannot be torn by divisive and communal agenda, whichever party tries to do, they always got drubbed in the polls. The bottom line is that never underestimate the power of voters in Kerala.