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Boost for Vijayan Before Assembly Polls as LDF Wins Local Body Election, UDF Biggest Loser, BJP Gains

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The BJP is ahead in 23 grama panchayats and two municipalities, including Pandalam, which was the centre of protests against the entry of women of the banned age group into the Sabarimala Ayyappa shrine.

The ruling CPI(M)-led LDF in Kerala on Wednesday appeared to make a sweep of the local body polls in the state, while the BJP seemed to have made some gains, leading in Pandalam, the centre of protests against women's entry into Sabarimala, among others. The Left front was leading in 514 grama panchayats, five corporations and 11 district panchayats, prompting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to attribute the good show to the people of the state.

Opposition Congress-led UDF was in the second spot, leading in over 400 local bodies. The Left front is also ahead in 108 block panchayats, Vijayan told reporters here.

He also took to Twitter to thank the people for reposing faith in the ruling front. "Thank you Kerala. Thank you for reposing faith in LDF.

We are humbled by the trust and the confidence of the people of Kerala. This is a victory for secularism and inclusive development," he said. It was "people's victory," he said, adding LDF's performance is a resounding reply to those who tried to belittle the state's achievements.

The Opposition Congress led UDF was leading in 375 grama panchayats, 44 block panchayats, 45 municipalities and three district panchayats. The BJP is ahead in 23 grama panchayats and two municipalities, including Pandalam, which was the centre of protests against the entry of women of the banned age group into the Sabarimala Ayyappa shrine.

The saffron party was ahead in Palakkad municipality also. Though the BJP could not put up a spectacular show, it still seemed to better its 2015 record, where it won 14 grama panchayats and the lone Palakkad municipality, and if the trends hold, could nearly double its seats this time.

The BJP had earlier organised state-wide protests against the entry of young women in the age group of 10-50 years into the shrine. UDF leaders-- KPCC President Mullapally Ramachandran, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the claims that the party-led front had been routed was baseless.

The front has not lost ground in any of its traditional bastions. The front's Political Affairs committee will be meeting on Thursday to take stock of the results, Ramachandran said, adding that the CPI(M) and the LDF need not rejoice.

They had not sought votes on the development agenda, he claimed. Chennithala said BJP has managed to do well only in some pockets and had failed to make any inroads and was a "total failure." "We have faired well in the elections. Over 375 panchayats are with us. The BJP has proved to be a total failure in the state.

Even after using all the influence of central agencies, the BJP failed. Yes, we had certain issues which we will address", he said. The fight against the 'anti-people' policies of the central and state governments will be continued, Chennithala said.

"When compared with the 2015 local body polls, the UDF did better this time. It's true that the anti-government sentiments were not seen this time. We will address the failure in each panchayat and move forward after correcting the mistakes", he said. "Other than in Pandalam and Palakkad, BJP has not made any impact in Kerala. We will look into the reasons behind loss of seats in Thiruvnanthapuram," Chennithala said.

BJP state president K Surendran alleged the UDF and LDF worked together to defeat his party in Thiruvananthapuram. The UDF vote share has gone down drastically. Many communal organisations have also helped the LDF, he alleged.

The good show by CPI(M) in Thiruvananthapuram Corporation is the result of an "unholy nexus" between the Left and the Congress, he said, adding the latter had failed in fighting the Left party. They need to introspect, he added. A Vijayaraghavan, LDF convener, who also holds the charge of CPI(M) state secretary, said the poll outcome showed that people have rejected the 'false campaign' against the party and the Chief Minister.

"Some tried to create controversies out of various allegations. The central probe agencies tried to derail the day-to-day governance of the state. Kerala has never seen any such poisonous campaigning ever. But people rejected all those and stood by the Left government", he said. The government was going through a very tough time due to various natural calamities, lack of funds from the Centre and the COVID-19 pandemic. But the people saw that the government never let any such adversities affect the people, he said.

P K Kunhalikutty, leader of IUML, a constituent of the UDF, said the party had retained its strongholds. The UDF and the Congress have to introspect the election result, he said. Earlier, the three phase polling, as per strict COVID-19 protocol, was held in a total of 21,893 wards in 1,200 local self governing bodies--including six corporations, 941 village panchayats, 14 district panchayats and 87 municipalities on December 8, 10 and 14.