When the results of the last elections to the local self-government bodies in Kerala were declared, the United Democratic Front (UDF) found itself decimated in Thrissur district.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) won 67 of the 86 gram panchayats. Also, six of the seven municipalities went to the Left. Fortunately, one municipality came UDF's way as the chairperson was selected through a draw of lots.
The Congress-led front UDF lost out on gaining the Trichur Municipal Corporation as well. The Assembly elections in the following year, 2016, saw LDF victory in 12 of the 13 seats. Despite a win, the UDF could manage only a thin majority in Wadakkanchery assembly constituency.
The UDF could finally hold up its head by winning the Thrissur Lok Sabha seat last year. The winning Congresss candidate led in six municipalities and 66 grama panchayats. That was a much-needed booster shot for the UDF.
The BJP which captured one grama panchayat in the last local body polls came ahead in six places in the Lok Sabha contest.
What looms now
The voter behaviour in Thrissur cannot be predicted. Farmers and businessmen form the bulk of the voters -- people whose fortunes would turn with a heavy rainfall or an abrupt change in weather conditions. As they can support or rebuff anyone, the stage is set in Thrissur for an earnest battle.
Development versus scandals
Amid the probe into the gold smuggling case that has upset the LDF government, a scandal over the building contract for a Life Mission flat complex at Wadakkanchery cropped up.
The CPM’s social media strategy also went wrong here. An emotional letter, purportedly written by a college student to Anil Akkara, the Wadakkanchery MLA, over not getting a flat, went viral on social media. Anil announced that he would give the house to the student if she turns up. Though he waited by the roadside for an entire day, none came.
But the LDF claims that it could ensure that the state government projects reached even the lower rungs of the society as the majority of the local civic bodies were with the LDF during their latest tenure, 2015-2020.
However, eight murders were reported in eight days in the recent past in the district, stirring up an anti-police sentiment in those areas.
The BJP, meanwhile, is trying to keep the Sabarimala row alive in the district, which has numerous temples. The takeover of Vadakkunnathan temple administration by the CPM office-bearers is also a raging issue here.
Other than Thiruvananthapuram, BJP-led NDA hopes for good returns from Thrissur.