While both the United Democratic Front and the Left Democratic Front claim Pathanamthitta to be their stronghold, the BJP too fancies its chances in the district in the upcoming local body elections.
Changing political landscape over the years
The Pathanamthitta district was formed over nearly four decades ago. During the initial years since its formation in 1982, Pathanamthitta leaned towards the UDF. This could be probably because the then Chief Minister K Karunakaran's role in carving out the district. Thus he could even placate K K Nair, MLA, who was left out of his ministry.
However, as years rolled by, the political landscape also underwent a change. Currently, all the five MLAs are from the LDF. The only consolation for the UDF is the consecutive victories in the Lok Sabha elections.
The UDF trails the LDF in the grama panchayats, but is on equal footing in the municipalities after the 2016 local body poll.
The Congress has a brute majority in the district panchayat. So far the LDF could gain control of the district panchayat only once. It had the advantage in eight block panchayats.
With the Kerala Congress (M) switching over to the ruling front, the UDF presidents too became part of the LDF as the tenure of most local bodies in the state came to a close recently.
How they stack up
The UDF believes that the party would benefit with its decision to field youth and fresh faces to contest. However, rebel candidates are a bother. For instance, a Congress leader is contesting against the Kerala Congress (Joseph) candidate in the Ranni division of the district panchayat.
Seat-sharing was not an easy task for the LDF too especially after the Kerala Congress (M) faction joining its fold recently.
There is discontentment in the LDF over letting the Congress deserters contest in the polls. They were made candidates even as senior leaders in the Konni and Pramadam divisions were left out in the candidate selection for the district panchayats.
Apart from the bypoll victory in the Konni Assembly constituency late last year, the LDF is hopeful that the opening of the Medical College Hospital, and the development projects of the government would help it to win votes.
Both senior leaders and new faces are in the electoral fray on behalf of the LDF.
The BJP is pinning its hopes on the party’s performance in the Lok Sabha elections. The party was able to gain control in three panchayats last time. The NDA has better hopes in the new scenario. However, it to has to contend with rebels and disputes over seat-sharing with the BDJS at some places.
The contest will also be a battle of survival for the Kerala Congress (M) factions.
District Panchayat: Total seats: 16 (Congress: 10, CPM 4, CPI 1 & Kerala Congress (M) 1
4 Municipalities: UDF won Pathanamthitta and Thiruvalla. LDF won Adoor and Pandalam.
8 Block Panchayats: UDF 3 and LDF 4. (UDF majority in another block Panchayat)
53 Gram Panchayats: LDF 25, UDF 21, BJP 3. (LDF & UDF had no clear majority at 4 places each.)