The campaigning for civic polls in Malappuram has the sound, fury and fervour of a football season. Many party-backed independent candidates and independents without the backing of political fronts are contesting the elections on football symbol expecting to cash in on the football fever in the district! Several tactics are being employed by the rival fronts including unofficial alliances outside the front to strike a goal.
So far the UDF has been enjoying an upper hand in the district with the highest population, highest voters and highest number of local bodies.
However, in the last elections, the LDF did manage to send a shiver down the spine of the UDF through tough contests. The LDF has many achievements to speak about like the second place it secured in Tanur municipality in 2015 polls.
The UDF is fighting the coming polls in a much-organised manner. Barring three, the UDF is contesting as a united front in all other panchayats.
The LDF on the other hand is expecting to make gains following the entry of Kerala Congress (M) into its fold.
With the BDJS entry, the NDA is also contesting in more wards this time.
On some seats, the LDF and UDF have not fielded candidates. It will be interesting to see where the candidates winning from these seats, be it from the Welfare Party, PDP, local outfits, independents and rebels, finally end up. UDF is facing rebel problems in district panchayat divisions also. In the Vengara assembly segment, a UDF local leader himself is contesting in a block panchayat constituency as a rebel.
In some places, LDF constituents CPM and CPI candidates are pitted against each other.
The major campaign issues are the corruption allegations against the state government and the cases registered against Muslim League MLAs. The tie-up with the Welfare Party is also a topic of discussion in the polls.
The LDF raked up the issue of relief material provided by Rahul Gandhi MP, rotting in stores and godowns.
In 2000 elections, it was suspected that the Muslim League had a tacit understanding with the CPM, while in 2015 the Congress gave a helping hand to the Marxists in at least 24 places. With many who won the elections along with LDF returning to the UDF fold, power changed hands in the second half.
2016 Civic Poll Results - Seat Count
Total seats: 32. UDF: 27 (Muslim League: 20 and Congress: 7) and LDF: 5 (CPM: 4 and CPI: 1)
Block Panchayats: 13 - UDF: 12 and LDF: 1
Municipalities: 12 - UDF: 9 and LDF: 3
Gram Panchayats: UDF with IUML: 51, IUML alone: 6 and LDF: 35
Peoples Front: 2