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Opinion Survey on Kerala Local Body Election 2020: Public Perception on the Political Dynamics of the Grassroots

Local Self Government (LSG) institutions in India refer to the governmental jurisdiction below the level of the State and play a crucial role in governance and administration as they directly engage with people at the grassroots. The 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution gave recognition to the local governments and empowered them with powers and responsibilities. As of 2017, the country has 267,428 local government bodies, of which 262,771 are rural and 4657 are urban. For a country as vast, diverse and populous as India, the role of these grassroot-level organisations is of prime importance as they play a major role in taking both the State and the Central government policies to the lowest ranks of the society. Even though the success rate of the LSG institutions varies from state to state, they have developed into an integral part of our federal system over the years.


The LSG institutions of Kerala are often considered as one of the most robust LSG systems present in the country with people’s active participation in governance. Timely elections are one of the prerequisites for keeping these institutions healthy. Elections to the LSG institutions in its present form began in Kerala from 1995 soon after the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution of India. Consequent to the amendments, the State established a three-tier system of LSGs consisting of Grama Panchayats, Block Panchayats and District Panchayats. There are two additional wings namely, Municipality for major towns and Municipal Corporation for major cities.

Even though a direct relation cannot be derived between the LSG and the State Legislative Assembly elections, local elections can shed light on the prevailing political trends in the State and the perception of people on various election related issues.

The Centre of Public Policy Research (CPPR) conducted an online survey between December 4 and December 14, 2020 with a broader objective to understand the political landscape of the State.  The survey polled over 710 respondents from Kerala to gauge people’s perceptions about the politics of the State and various factors that could impact the local body elections.

Click here to read the report: Opinion Survey on Kerala Local Body Election 2020: Public Perception on the Political Dynamics of the Grassroots

KEY FINDINGS

  1. 88.7 per cent of the respondents were of the opinion that caste/ religion/community would not be a factor while voting.
  2. 45 per cent of the respondents said that a potential Panchayat President/Chairperson/ Mayor candidate can influence their decision of whom to vote, while 37 per cent of the respondents were of the opinion that it will not influence their voting pattern.
  3. Out of the 695 respondents, 80.3 per cent believe that State policies and issues at the State level will influence the elections.
  4. 53.1 per cent of the respondents opined that the national issues will not affect LSG elections.
  5. 52.8 per cent of the respondents believe that independent candidates or candidates from non-political outfits are considered seriously by them.
  6. Waste management, road/street lights/other basic amenities, corruption, drinking water and related issues are considered as crucial factors that affect the local body elections. 50 per cent of the total respondents rated these issues as most relevant with respect to their influence in local elections.
  7. 33 per cent of the total respondents believe that incumbent Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will be the most suitable Chief Ministerial candidate for the State Legislative Assembly elections in 2021, followed by KK Shailaja supported by 30 per cent of the respondents.
  8. Out of 208 women respondents, 47 per cent were of the opinion that KK Shailaja will be a suitable Chief Ministerial candidate for the Assembly elections coming up in 2021.
  9. 56.3 per cent of the respondents believe that LDF has an edge in the elections over the other two coalitions and 29.4 per cent among them opined that the victory would be by a huge margin.
  10. 56 per cent of the total male respondents and 51 per cent of the total female respondents opined that LDF has an edge, whereas 33 per cent of the male and 40 per cent of the female respondents believe that UDF has an edge in the elections. In the case of NDA, it is 8 per cent of the male respondents and 5 per cent of the female respondents.
  11. 58 per cent of the respondents from Panchayats, 52 per cent from Municipalities and 46 per cent from Corporations said that LDF is having an upper hand in the elections. In the case of UDF, it is 35 per cent from Panchayats, 32 per cent from Municipalities and 38 per cent from Corporations.

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