After a fiercely contested local body election, the Varkala municipality is set to witness equally hectic political manoeuvrings in the weeks ahead with the poll results showing a hung council.
Though it leads in the number of seats, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) — which won 12 seats — has failed to obtain the magic number of 17 required for a majority in the council. In 2015, the LDF had captured the municipality with 18 seats. The 2020 local body polls also witnessed the emergence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a force to reckon with in the municipality. The BJP increased its tally from just three seats in 2015 to 11, pushing the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) to the third place with seven seats.
Setback for LDF, UDF
In fact, both the LDF and the UDF suffered setbacks in the current edition of the local body polls — while the LDF seat tally dropped from 18 in 2015 to 12, the municipal wards in the UDF fold dipped from 12 to seven. Independents won three wards this time.
The BJP fought the election encouraged by the knowledge that it had stood first in 19 of the municipal wards in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It wrested six wards won by the CPI(M) in 2015 and two wards held by the Congress to take home 11 seats. The BJP also managed to retain its hold over the three wards — Chaluvila, Temple, and Punnamoodu — it won last time.
In LDF’s kitty
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] -led LDF won in Vilakkulam, Idapparambu, Janathamukku, Nadayara, Teachers’ Colony, Raghunathapuram, Panayil, Vallakadavu, Municipal Office, Papanasam, Mundayil and Kurakkani.
The CPI(M) chairperson in the 2015-2020 council, Bindu Haridas, lost to Congress candidate Indulekha in the Pullanikode ward. K.M. Laji, prominent among the CPI(M) candidates this time, won from the Teachers’ Colony ward.
In-fighting costs UDF
In-fighting in the UDF in Varkala appears to have spoiled the game for a number of Congress candidates. Squabbles over seat-sharing had prompted the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) to field candidates in seven wards where candidates of the Congress were in the fray. Four of these wards held by the Congress in 2015 — Idapparambu, Nadayara, Raghunathapuram and Panayil — fell to the LDF this time. The CPI(M) captured the Vallakadavu ward, pushing the Congress and IUML candidates to second and third places. Congress candidates managed to win in two other wards where IUML candidates were in the fray.
P.M. Basheer of the Congress won in the Kottumoola ward where BJP’s Ajulal came second and IUML’s Yakub, third. In Maithanam ward, the Congress candidate, A. Salim won. Here, the IUML candidate who was in the fray was pushed to the fourth spot.