UDF sweeps local body bypolls in Ernakulam

LDF manages to keep only one of four sitting seats

The United Democratic Front (UDF) swept all but one of the bypolls held to one municipal division and three panchayat wards in Ernakulam district of Kerala on Wednesday. It may impact power equations in at least two local bodies.

UDF candidate Sini Joy wrested back Division 5 of the Piravom Municipality, beating Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate Anju Mohan by 205 votes, thus jeopardising LDF rule, as both the fronts are now tied at 13 seats each. The bypoll in the municipal division was held after elected LDF councillor Mini Sajan of the JD(S) resigned on getting a government job.

The outcome of polls to be held in Division 14 of the municipality that fell vacant following the death of another LDF councillor George Narekkadan will now prove decisive in deciding the ruling front.

Despite having only seven councillors to 12 of the UDF, the LDF managed to wrest power in the municipality, wooing eight victorious Independents, taking its tally to 15 in the 27-member house. The stance to be adopted by Gils Periapuram who won on the Kerala Congress (M) ticket but had since resigned from the party and sworn independence after being denied ticket in the last Assembly elections may prove crucial. Both the fronts are now likely to woo the dissident to tilt the balance in their favour.

In the 13-member Marady panchayat, the bypoll outcome had little impact, as the ruling UDF improved its seat share to nine after its candidate Ratheesh Changalimattom defeated Binil Thankappan by 91 votes. The byelection was necessitated after the elected LDF candidate resigned on getting a government job.

The LDF managed to retain power in Vengoor panchayat after its candidate Peter P.V. defeated UDF’s Leena Joy by 19 votes. Going into the bypolls, both the LDF and the UDF were tied on seven seats each in the 15-member panchayat. The byelection had to be held following the death of the elected LDF councillor in Ward 11.

In Varapetty panchayat, the UDF further consolidated its power after its candidate Shaji Blessy wrested back Ward 13, defeating the LDF’s Rini Biju by 214 votes. The UDF tally rose to nine after the LDF lost one of its four seats after the sitting councillor quit on getting a government job.

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