Major fronts are keeping their fingers crossed as the open campaign for the election to the 13 municipalities and the Ernakulam district panchayat ended at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
Poll managers were busy making last-minute calculations amidst mixed hopes about voter turnout on Thursday. Candidates will be actively engaged in silent campaign on the poll eve on Wednesday. The high-decibel conclusion to the open campaign was absent this time in view of the pandemic situation. However, vehicle announcements and cluster meetings marked the end of the public campaign in the 13 municipalities and 27 divisions under the Ernakulam district panchayat.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) claimed that they would reach the finishing line first though several factors are at work in the civic body elections. Despite the general view that local issues would be the key in the civic body elections, both the fronts admitted that the overall political situation and the changing equations may be reflected in the final outcome. Termed as the ‘semi-final’ before the Assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was confident of making dents and improving its vote share, especially in some of the municipalities.
The battle for the municipalities seems evenly poised going by the outcome of the 2015 elections. Political slugfest and rebel menace had shifted the fortunes of both the key fronts in municipalities like Koothattukulam, Thrikkakara and Maradu. The Congress-led UDF has high hopes on retaining its traditional strongholds both in the municipalities and the Ernakulam district panchayat. It is riding high on the consecutive victories in the district panchayat since 2010. But the Left front seems to be banking on the anti-incumbency factor and rebel menace haunting the UDF in certain divisions for making a return.
The tussle for the 82 grama panchayats in the district also seems evenly poised between the two key fronts amidst expectations that the BJP and formations like the Twenty20 would pose trouble in some of the wards. Of the 1,338 wards in 82 grama panchayats, the UDF had won 608 while the LDF bagged 602 wards last time. The BJP had won 49 wards.