A total of 70,915 candidates are left in the fray for the multi-tier local body polls in Kerala as the deadline for withdrawal of nominations drew to a close last evening, according to the State Election Commission (SEC).
For the first time, 50 per cent of the total 21,612 seats have been reserved for women in village, bolock and district panchyats and municpal councils and city corporations, where the voting is to take place on October 23 and 25.
As in any other election in Kerala, the civic polls are also fought firecely on political lines with the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and the Opposition Congress led UDF being the main contestants. The grass-root level face-off is taken by main political players in the state as an opportunity for cadre mobilisation and a test of ground realities ahead of the assembly polls due in early next year.
The LDF, which suffered heavy losses in the Lok Sabha polls last year,has exuded confidence of regaining the lost ground through the civic polls. According to CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, the LDF is facing the civic polls overcoming certain "weaknesses" from which his party and the LDF suffered during the Lok Sabha polls.
The UDF, despite the internal internal bickerings over seat-sharing, however is trying hard to make it an impressive show before gearing up for the assembly elections. The BJP, fighting a lonely battle, has put up contestants in a majority of seats.
Though the battle is largely on coalition lines, both fronts are facing rebel problem in many places across the state with aggrieved aspirants jumping the fray against the party diktats.