Parties keep their fingers crossed amid low voter turnout in Kochi Corporation


Apolitical outfits like V4 Kochi likely to play spoilsport in a few divisions, impacting major players

A day after the local body elections in which the polling percentage in the Kochi Corporation dropped by nearly 8% compared to the previous election, the Left Democratic Front is confident of wresting power after two successive terms in the Opposition. At the same time, the United Democratic Front (UDF) hopes to retain power bucking the anti-incumbency factor, whereas both the BJP and V4 Kochi, the new apolitical outfit in the fray, are upbeat about notching up double figures in the 74-member council.

The cliched theory that the LDF will benefit from the relatively lower voter turnout has kicked in, though the UDF was quick to dispel it.

“The actual polling would have been in the range of 67% to 68% had not for the inclusion of non-residents and even the dead in the electoral rolls. The marginal drop in turnout could be attributed to the reluctance on the part of the aged to vote amid the pandemic, and that could evenly cut both ways,” said Dominic Presentation, who captained the UDF campaign. He is optimistic of retaining the 40 seats from the last council, unless there are major invisible undercurrents.

C.M. Dinesh Mani, the CPI(M) State committee member who spearheaded the LDF campaign, however, observed that a division-wise analysis gave the front a clear advantage good enough for it to romp back to power. “Squabbles within the Congress and heartburn over selection of candidates had dented the prospects of the UDF, as reflected in the lacklustre response from its support base,” he said.

BJP district president S. Jayakrishnan attributed the drop in polling percentage to the disenchantment of the public with the 10-year UDF rule and expected to cash in with an unprecedented double-digit gain in the council.

Nipun Cherian, the political campaign controller of V4 Kochi, alleged a conspiracy by the State Election Commission by selectively eliminating from the electoral rolls legitimate young voters, who formed the support base of the nascent outfit, thus favouring mainstream political parties’ resistance to a transition in society. “We will publish the division-wise manipulation of electoral rolls and fight it politically and legally. Despite that, we will win 15 divisions, while it is unpredictable in another 30,” he said.

Meanwhile, both the LDF and the BJP claimed that V4 Kochi would eat into the UDF vote base, and the latter shot it down, saying that while the outfit might play spoilsport in a few divisions that might impact all players. “V4 Kochi may also have managed to attract that section of voters who otherwise consistently avoided voting,” Mr. Presentation said.

Mr. Mani said that the political landscape had changed unlike in 2015 when apolitical outfits like the Aam Aadmi Party had some acceptance in the immediate aftermath of Narendra Modi’s victory. “People can now see through these outfits, which bring no good in the long run,” he said.

Mr. Cherian, on the other hand, accused all major political parties of cross-voting and stitching up unholy nexus wherever their own candidates were on sticky wickets to keep V4 Kochi at bay, to safeguard their common vested economic interests.

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