As another election season arrives, 1,199 of 1,200 local self-governing bodies will be having a busy month ahead for the voting on December 8, 10, and 14. However, out of the 87 municipalities in Kerala, Mattanur in Kannur will not be participating. No, it is not because they don’t believe in the democratic process but that their timing is different.
Mattanur didn’t become a municipality until 1990 when the LDF government led by E K Nayanar had decided to upgrade the grama panchayat. However, the state government changed in 1991, and the K Karunakaran-led UDF government decide that Mattanur continues as a panchayat. The government’s argument was that Mattanur didn’t have the revenue or geographical features to make it a municipality. However, the opposition didn’t sit idle and they protested the decision. The LDF moved their demands at the High Court and the latter stayed the UDF government’s decision, following which there was an administrative freeze in the area. The situation did not get better for another six years.
From 1995, there were many administrative dilemmas in Mattanur. Since it wasn’t a municipality or a grama panchayat, the status confusion resulted in many of the many officers being removed from power and duties, causing a complete shutdown of administration. In 1997, one year after the LDF government assumed power in state under E K Nayanar, the HC removed the stay and allowed Mattanur to continue as a municipality with prior validity. Since then LDF has clearly dominated the LSG polls and has since been on a separate schedule from the rest. As the other areas gear up for a tough competition Mattanur, and its residents will sit by and watch it all unfold.