Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala is set to script yet another chapter in its electoral history during the local body polls slated to be held next month, with 50 percent of seats in corporations, municipalities and panchayats reserved for women, for the first time in the state.
Political parties are working overtime to get their act together for the elections, scheduled for October 23 and 25,as which is seen as a dress rehearsal for the assembly elections
due in May next with the main fight between the ruling CPI-M led LDF and opposition UDF spearheaded by Congress.
Though parties are finding it hard to get the right candidates for the seats reserved for women as most of them are career-oriented, the quota is certain to bring in a major
change in the state`s political scene.
The election is an acid test for the LDF which suffered a drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls last year when the Congress and its allies grabbed 16 of the 20 seats.
It would be a tough task for the LDF to retain its hold over majority of local bodies which it won last time since it is facing a host of problems, mainly linked to the Finance and education departments and questions are being raised about the lack of collective responsibility.
Allegations of corruption are also doing the rounds with the Opposition accusing the CPI-M of helping the `lottery mafia` operate in the state.
The finance department`s inept handling of the `other state lottery mafia` has also come in for criticism. The UDF also blames the government for `sabotaging` the panchayati raj
system by failing to distribute funds to local bodies.
"Devolution of funds to local bodies had been a failure in the last five years," Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy said.
The Opposition is also likely to raise the issue of the admission procedure to self-financing educational colleges in the state.
The sufferings of landless tribals is another issue the UDF would raise during their campaign, sources said.
The main plank of the LDF, which has a tougher battle ahead as they have to retain their prevailing supremacy in the village, block and district panchayats as well as urban
bodies, will be the rise in price of essential commodities.