Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The first phase of voting for the three-phased elections to the decentralised tiers of local bodies at the village, block and district levels in Kerala will be conducted by the Kerala State Election Commission on Tuesday. (PTI/ File photo)
The first phase of voting for the three-phased elections to the decentralised tiers of local bodies at the village, block and district levels in Kerala will be conducted by the Kerala State Election Commission on Tuesday. The elections are being conducted for panchayats, municipalities and corporations in which 27.1 million voters are eligible to vote across 34,744 polling stations.
Kerala’s three political coalitions — CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) are in the fray in these polls. The polls are being held five months ahead of crucial assembly elections in Kerala, which are likely to be conducted in May 2021.
Here’s all you need to know about the Kerala local body elections 2020:
1. In the first phase of polling on Tuesday, voters from five districts of Kerala — Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki — will exercise their franchise. The fate of 24,584 candidates would be sealed during voting from 7am to 6pm. As many as 11,225 polling booths have been set up and webcasting has also been introduced in 320 problematic polling booths, officials have said. Authorities have deployed 56,122 personnel for election duty.
2. The second phase of polling on 10 December will see voters from Ernakulam, Kottayam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad districts head to the polls. The third and final phase on 14 December will see voting in Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod districts in northern Kerala.
3. Out of the 1,200 self-government institutions in Kerala across 14 districts, elections will be held to 1,199 local bodies which includes 15,962 wards in 941 village panchayats, 2,080 seats in 152 block panchayats, 331 seats in 14 district panchayats, 3,078 wards in 86 municipalities and 414 wards in six municipal corporations.
4. According to the State Election Commission, 74,899 candidates will contest the polls which include 38,593 men, 36,305 women and one transgender candidate.
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5. There are 88,26,873 voters in the first phase, including 41,58,395 males, 46,68,267 females and 61 transgender people. This includes 150 NRIs and 42,530 first-time voters.
5. The polls were originally scheduled to take place in October as the tenure of elected representatives to the local bodies was set to end on November 12 but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the state election postponed the polls till December.
6. In the 2015 polls, out of the six corporations, the LDF won in four and two are in the UDF’s kitty. Currently, the LDF rules the majority of the municipal and local bodies.
7. The LDF’s prime focus during the campaign has been the achievements of the four-and-half-year-old Pinarayi Vijayan government as the party has touted its social welfare schemes and handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But LDF is not in a comfortable position this time in the polls as UDF and the BJP have questioned the ruling party on controversies related to the gold smuggling case, corruption in the Life Mission project and allegations against the Pinarayi Vijayan government. The BJP-led NDA is trying to create a dent in the state, pinning hopes on various development programmes initiated by Prime minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.
8. Notably, Kerala has reserved 50% of seats in local body polls for women.
9. The local body polls are being held under strict Covid-19 norms and voters have been asked to sanitise their hands as they enter and exit the polling booths. To maintain social distance markers are used and face masks are mandatory. Only three voters are allowed inside the booth at a time.
10. Apart from postal ballots, Covid-19 patients are allowed to vote after regular voters cast their votes. Listed as special voters, they must arrive at the polling station before 6pm. Polling officials and agents have been instructed to wear personal protection equipment (PPE) kit before special voters can enter the polling station.
11. The state election commission has said that those treated at government-run hospitals will be taken to the polling station by the health department. Special voters living in non-government-controlled institutions or homes should come with a PPE kit at their own expense and drivers ferrying them must also wear a PPE kit.
12. Votes will be counted on December 16.