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Arrangements for polls complete in Thrissur district

Special Correspondent

Campaign concludes at 5 p.m. today; polling will be held on Monday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

— Photo: K.C. Sowmish

FINAL CHECK: Voting machines being checked and sealed by officials at an election office at the Maharaja's Technological Institute in Thrissur on Friday.

Thrissur: Arrangements for local body election polling are complete in Thrissur district, according to election officials.

The public campaign for local body elections will conclude on Saturday at 5 p.m.

The polling will be held on Monday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Elections are being held in 55 divisions in the Thrissur Corporation, 29 divisions in the district panchayat, 233 wards in six municipalities, 213 wards in 16 block panchayats and 1,501 wards in 88 grama panchayats. The total number of representatives to be elected is 2,031. The total number of voters in the district is 23,24,939. Of them, 12,32,603 are women.

Among the municipalities in the district, Guruvayur has the largest number of voters: 57,357 (including 31,085 women). Of the municipalities, Chavakkad has the lowest number of voters: 29,742 (including 16,574 women).

The following are the number of voters in other municipalities—Kunnamkulam (43,270); Chalakudy (36,940); Irinjalakuda (49,348); and Kodungalloor (48,308). The number of women voters in these municipalities is: Kunnamkulam (23,533); Chalakudy (19,353); Irinjalakuda (26,841); and Kodungalloor (25,443).

The total number of voters in 88 grama panchayats is 18,22,234 (including 9,65,544 women). Of the grama panchayats, Mattathur has the largest number of voters: 35,472 (including 18,448 women). Athirappilly grama panchayat has the lowest number of voters: 7,204 (including 3,717 women).

The district has 3,463 polling stations. The number of polling stations in other civic bodies is—Thrissur Corporation: 212; Chalakudy municipality: 36; Irinjalakuda: 41; Kodungalloor: 46; Chavakkad: 32; Guruvayur: 43; Kunnamkulam: 37.

Following the 2005 elections, the LDF had run the Thrissur Corporation, district panchayat, five municipalities, 15 block panchayats and 78 grama panchayats. In one municipality, 2 block panchayats and 13 grama panchayats, the UDF was at the helm.

Tough battle on cards

A tough battle involving the LDF, UDF and the BJP is on the cards in the district. Political observers say that even if the LDF manages to perform well in the district panchayat, municipalities, block and grama panchayats, it may have to strain overmuch to retain the Corporation.

The LDF pins hopes on the effects of the pro-people measures taken in the last four years, including provision of rice at Rs.2 a kg to 41 lakh families; toning up the public distribution system (PDS) by shelling out Rs.513 crore; increasing the social security pension from Rs.120 to Rs.300; and schemes such as ‘Thalolam' that gratuitously nurses patients under the age of 18 through debilitating illnesses. In Thrissur's hinterland, hope sprang forth with 133.33 hectares of fallow land turning bright with crops during LDF rule.

The UDF says the LDF is unjustly claiming credit for many of the Centre's pro-people measures. Rebel and dissident activities have worried both fronts. In Corporation wards alone, eight rebels trouble the Congress. Kerala Congress (B) has fielded candidates in many wards ignoring UDF strictures. In Thalikkulam and Nattika, dissidents bugged the CPI(M). The selection of Vimala Bhavadas, daughter of trade union leader A.V. Aryan, as a CPI candidate in civic body elections, came as a surprise.

Aryan was one of the accused in a case relating to the murder of CPI(M) leader Azhikodan Raghavan in 1972. Secret electoral deals struck by political parties and communal outfits may, perhaps, decide the election outcome. The CPI(M) suspects clandestine UDF-BJP electoral deals in some boroughs. In Vallachira, Nenmanikkara and Varavur panchayats, UDF and BJP candidates reportedly sport common election symbols such as apple and mango.

The LDF keeps its fingers crossed over courting Christian pockets in Ollur, Manalur, Kunnamkulam, Irinjalakuda and some Corporation wards. For the Left, winning over a recalcitrant Church can be as tough as ducking charges of romancing majority communalism. Worried about the erosion of Hindu votes and raring to improve its show from the previous tally of 42 seats in the district's civic bodies, the BJP had drawn up a shrewd strategy. The party promised to support non-BJP contestants, Right or Left, in places where it did not field candidates. The media went gaga over alleged LDF-BJP ties after BJP district president B. Gopalakrishnan broached the claim and senior leader O. Rajagopal supported it.

The sound bytes over the alleged ties drowned all the talk about problems in the BJP district unit, defection of workers and poll challenges posed in some pockets by ousted leader Sreesan Adiyattu. Political observers say the UDF has not been able to turn to its advantage the alleged lapses of the CPI(M) in running the Corporation.

The CPI(M) drew flak for alleged waste management woes in Lalur; pothole-riddled roads; converting the concrete Swaraj Round to a tarmac driveway ignoring the counsel of a section of experts; building a footpath there without well-developed underground ducts; lapses in laying a new Peechi-Thrissur pipeline to supplement the existing 600 mm and 700 mm diameter lines; cutting down the gauge of the new pipeline from the proposed 900 mm to 700 mm diameter; and executing only two Swasraya drinking water supply schemes against the 78 ones drawn up and 27 ones implemented by the previous UDF council.

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