Thiruvananthapuram: The delay in promulgating an ordinance to amend the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and Kerala Municipality Act via an ordinance to facilitate a change in number of seats in local body elections has put the authorities in a bind.
The government has already initiated moves to increase seats in all local bodies, taking into consideration the increase in population.
This would have to be facilitated by amending the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and Kerala Muncipality Act via an ordinance. As of now the seats have been decided as per the 2001 census. The seat allocation now would be based on the 2011 census.
The State Election Commission can initiate efforts for delimitation of wards only after the ordinance is promulgated, a process which would take at least five months.
After the ordinance is promulgated, the government will decide the number of seats in local bodies and will communicate it to the State Election Commission, which will start the delimitation exercise.
It will have to then call for objections, if any, from stake holders and address the concerns before finalising the ward delimitation exercise, State Election Commissioner V Bhaskaran told Onmanorama.
There are 941 gram panchayats, 152 block panchayats, 14 district panchayats, 87 municipalities and six corporations in the state.
Gender shift at helm
The local body elections, likely to be held in the late-second half of the year, would see a gender shift at the helm.
The local bodies, which have men at helm now, would then be headed by women and vice versa.
This means Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kozhikode corporations would have women as Mayors while Kochi, Kannur and Thrissur corporations would see a change of guard with men as mayors.
These changes would be reflected in seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes too in municipality, block and district and gram panchayats.
Fifty per cent of the seats in 1,200 local bodies in the state are reserved for women.
There are 13-23 members in gram panchayats and block panchayats while district panchayats have 16-32 members. Municipalities have 25-52 members and the numbers in corporations range from 55-100.
The number of eligible voters in 2015 was a tad above 2 crore 51 lakh – 1,20,58,262 men and 1,30,50,163 women.
The local body polls would likely gauge the public mood ahead of the Assembly elections early next year.
The Left Democratic Front swept the 2015 local body polls winning over 50 per cent of seats indicating an imminent change of guard though this may not necessarily a forgone conclusion always.