The Neyyattinkara municipality threw up a hung verdict again with the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) failing to get absolute majority.
Though it fell short of majority in the 44-member council, the LDF emerged the single largest party with 18 seats in a contest where it was neck and neck with the UDF that won 17 seats.
BJP wins nine
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) succeeded in making further inroads in the council, securing nine seats, an increase of four over its tally of five seats in the 2015 local body elections.
In 2015, the LDF had won 22 seats, but held on to power, first with the support of Independents and later the Kerala Congress (M). The UDF had won 12 seats then.
This time, the UDF hoped to wrest back power from the LDF after having held the reins here back in 2010. While it did not succeed in winning the number of seats it expected, the improved tally of 17 will be some consolation.
Prominent names in the LDF who tasted victory include former party area secretary and likely chairperson candidate P.K. Rajmohan who contested from Moonnukallinmoodu and former municipal vice chairperson K.K. Shibu who contested the elections for the sixth time — from Athazhamangalam.
Centre for Indian Trade Unions national council member V. Kesavan Kutty, however, lost in Krishnapuram ward and Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] area secretary Mohanan K. in Rameswaram, the ward where former chairperson W.R. Heeba and K. Ansalan, MLA, had won in the past two terms.
In Rameswaram, Shibu Raj Krishna, BJP leader in the 2015 council, fended off Bobas B. of the Congress. His sister M. Kala won from the neighbouring Amaravila ward. Manchathala Suresh, Karshaka Morcha district general secretary, bagged the Aalummoodu ward, while Scheduled Castes Morcha State unit secretary S.S. Swapna Jith won from Alampotta.
For the UDF, District Congress Committee general secretary Jose Franklin won the Muttakkadu ward. However, A. Lalitha, Leader of the Opposition in the 2015 council, lost from Koottappana ward, as did former chairperson S.S. Jayakumar who was defeated in Puthanambalam.
Aalummoodu was a ward where the presence of rebel BJP candidate V. Harikumar added a twist to the fight between the three coalitions. Vadakode, a ward where the poll battle was keenly watched, sided with the UDF after being with the LDF for the past two terms. Here, Aji N. of the UDF emerged the winner.
Mampazhakkara too swung the UDF way after being with the LDF in 2015.
The one in seven
Plavila ward where as many as seven candidates, including two former councillors and a CPI(M) rebel candidate, contested was pocketed by the BJP this time.
In Kollavamvila where only two candidates were in the fray, Carrolin Smitha Das of the UDF defeated Rama B.T. of the LDF.