Opposing fronts brace for the polls

Controversies surrounding gold smuggling case will be main political issue

The three political coalitions in the State on Friday appeared to move fast to piece together a victory for themselves in the local body elections to be held in three phases in December.

The polls are viewed widely as a bellwether of the State’s voting behaviour in the run-up to the Assembly elections in 2021, and their importance seemed not lost on the opposing fronts.

State secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI) Kanam Rajendran said the Left Democratic Front (LDF) district committees had completed the process of seat-sharing smoothly.

The controversies surrounding the gold smuggling case would have no bearing on the polls. People would give credit to the stellar record of the government in health and infrastructure development. Livelihood issues determined local body elections and not shortlived salacious scandals, he said.

The State secretariat of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] reportedly weighed political and legal action to counter the wilful jurisdictional overreach of Central agencies to unsettle the LDF government politically. The party was likely to make the “trespasses on the rights of the State by the Centre” an election issue.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has made it evident that it will fight the LDF on an anti-corruption platform. Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala has stated that the Pinarayi Vijayan government posed a threat to the rule of law.

It has even bent the ethics committee of the Assembly to its will in an attempt to fend off Central investigations into the illegal activities of Mr. Vijayan’s office. The CPI(M) had mislaid its moral compass and also lost the capacity to introspect and correct course, Mr. Chennithala said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) felt that the electorate would try the alliance for a change. Voters were tired of the LDF and the UDF. The CPI(M) and the Congress had alienated themselves from the law-abiding public by making overtures to Islamist forces for electoral gain, BJP State president K. Surendran said.

The BJP has made it clear that it would campaign on a rule of law platform by highlighting the arrest of Bineesh Kodiyeri on drug-trafficking linked money laundering charges and the gold smuggling case.

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