The United Democratic Front (UDF) is not faring well as it would have expected in the Kerala local body elections going by initial trends available at 11 am, particularly on the back of the offensive it mounted against the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF).
The UDF, led by the Congress and with Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) as a key member, was trailing the ruling LDF, led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), in almost all tiers.
The UDF had tried to cash in on various allegations against the LDF starting from Kerala gold smuggling case and Bengaluru drug racket case besides others.
While UDF trailed LDF in gram panchayats leading in 354 against LDF’s 442, it was behind the ruling front in block panchayats 53 to 98.
Among municipalities, the UDF led in 36 against LDF’s 40, while it fared far worse in district panchayats leading in four against LDF’s 10. In urban corporations, it was leading in two against LDF’s four.
The UDF, however, had to face a shock upset in Kochi corporation where its mayoral candidate N Venugopal lost by a solitary vote to the BJP candidate. Venugopal termed it as “technical defeat” and said he would seek recounting.
The UDF’s woes were stark in Thiruvananthapuram corporation, where it was leading in five wards only — a distant third compared to the LDF and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Currently, LDF leading in 28, NDA in 20 and UDF in six.
More problems for the UDF in store as the LDF won from Harippad, the constituency of senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala, who has been going hammer and tongs against the LDF, particularly in the gold smuggling case.
The LDF was leading in 22 wards and NDA in 14 wards. In the 2016 elections, the LDF had 42 wards, the BJP 34 and UDF 21 in the 100-member corporation.
In Kozhikode, the CPI-M’s stronghold, the LDF was set to form the next council leading in 26 followed by UDF with 11 and the BJP with five.
The UDF and LDF were locked in a fierce battle in Kochi and Thrissur corporations.
For the BJP, the cheer, apart from the Kochi victory over the mayor hopeful and Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, came from the NDA opening its account in Kannur Corporation, another stronghold of UDF, with its candidate P K Shaiju winning from Pallikunnu and Nilambur municipality.
It also took a surprising lead in Varkala municipality. The NDA was leading in 31 gram panchayats and three municipalities, one block panchayat, and three municipalities.
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