Thiruvananthapuram: The Left was headed for a comfortable win in the Kerala civic polls, edging out the Congress-led UDF. The BJP were able to improve their tally as votes were counted on Saturday.
The Left beat hollow the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in the gram panchayat and block panchayat segments. In the district panchayats, the two were equally poised with seven districts each.
In the six corporations, the Left won two, the UDF bagged one and in three it appeared to be a hung house.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) has done what the UDF did in the 2010 polls. The civic polls took place ahead of the assembly elections to be held next year.
As the tens of thousands of votes were counted by 5 p.m., of the 941 gram panchayats, LDF are ahead in 546, the UDF in 368 and the BJP was leading in 16 with others in 15.
The 2015 polls were held for 21,871 seats in 941 village, 152 blocks and 14 district panchayats besides 86 municipalities and six corporations.
The final results are yet to be released.
At the block level, the LDF was leading in 92 and the UDF in 59 while at the district panchayat level the rival fronts led in seven each.
In the municipalities segment, the LDF was slightly ahead in 44 and the UDF in 41 and the BJP in just one.
Overall in the 2010 polls, the UDF had won 65 percent of the total seats.
Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, who was the star campaigner for the Left, said that this victory was a slap in the face of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
"The people have given a fitting reply to the corrupt ways of this government... It's only the Left that can prevent the emergence of fascist forces and hence people have voted for us," said Achuthanandan.
It is a strong come back for the Left which has not been able to secure a total win in any polls since they won the 2006 assembly polls.
In the 2010 civic polls, while the Left won in the corporation (by winning three out of the five corporations), in the other segments - municipalities, district panchayats, block panchayats and gram panchayats, it was the Congress-led UDF that was far ahead of the Left.
The BJP had reason to cheer as it came second in the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, pushing the Congress to third position after they won 34 seats, while the Congress could manage only 21 and the Left secured 42.
The BJP, which secured around 500 seats in the 2010 polls, was able to muster about 1,100 seats till 5 p.m.
"The results have proved that we are now a force to reckon with in electoral politics in the state and we just cannot be brushed aside," said state BJP president V. Muraleedharan.
As the results began to come in thick and fast, the Left opposition was able to clearly edge out the ruling Congress led UDF in all the segments of the three-tier local body structure in the state.
State Congress president V.M. Sudheeran said that the results shows that the UDF base has not been affected that much.
"But, nevertheless, we did not expect this. But overall our base is intact. Yes, in the Thiruvananthapuram corporation (where it has been reduced to third position after the BJP) we have suffered a serious reverse," said Sudheeran.
"Now it's going to be time for introspection and to find out where we made mistakes. Was it the candidate selection... All such issues would be discussed threadbare next week when our party leadership meets," Sudheeran told reporters here at the state party headquarters.
State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said that this is a warning signal that the people have given them.
"We have been winning every election in the state after the Left won the 2006 assembly polls and hence we will certainly have to do a lot of stock taking. We will look into all aspects which includes governance and other issues," said Chennithala.
Achuthanandan, however, said that the recent tie-up between the Hindu Ezhava leader Vellapally Natesan and BJP has come a cropper for them in the state.
"Their tie-up failed to evoke any response and their candidate in Natesan's home turf finished third," said Achuthanandan.
(Sanu George can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)