Ask Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat president V.K. Madhu about the achievements he would highlight for the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF)’s local body election campaign, and he would reel out a long list of initiatives and national and State awards won over the past five years.
Along with a brute majority of 19 out of 26 divisions, it is this list that gives him the confidence that the district panchayat would not go back to the United Democratic Front (UDF), which had held it in the previous tenure.
According to Mr. Madhu, the focus of the past five years has been equal across various sectors, from education to health and even sports.
“Under the ‘Padheyam’ project, we have been providing daily meals for 6,500 people, totalling over 95 lakh food packets in these years. We set up libraries in all of the 10,600 classrooms in government schools in the district. Sixty-two schools have new buildings. All the district hospitals have dialysis facilities now, while we spent ₹60 crore for improvement of hospitals. We have implemented free dialysis for all poor patients in the district. We have opened five major sports hubs. Under the Jalasree project, 2,048 farm ponds and 2 lakh rainwater pits were made. We have also entered the Guinness Records with a karate performance by 6,000 girls trained by us. Not to forget our interventions during the floods, when we sent out 90 loads of materials and during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Mr. Madhu.
Ansajitha Russel, Congress member and district panchayat president during 2010-15, says that many of these projects were merely a continuation of the work done during her tenure.
“Many of these are based on projects we had planned earlier. Maybe, the karate scheme is their idea, but has it benefited in the long run? There are issues in the implementation of the ‘Padheyam’ project at the local level, but we did not raise it as it is a scheme to provide food for the poor. What was the need to spend crores of rupees to renovate the district panchayat building? We had implemented schemes for cancer-detection camps for women and tri-scooter distribution for differently-abled, which they stopped. We intend to restart these when we return to power,” says Ms. Russel.
The Bharatiya Janata Party made its debut in the district panchayat in 2015, winning the Venganoor division. But V. Lathakumari, the BJP member from Venganoor is all praise for Mr. Madhu.
“Though I am a BJP member, I have only good things to say about Mr. Madhu. He performed well as president and was able to implement a lot of things. We all stood united when it came to implementing various projects. I was able to do quite a few things in the Venganoor division, which is certain to help BJP in the coming elections,” says Ms. Lathakumari.
She, however, says that she had disagreements on not giving enough credits to the Central government which had funded some of the projects.