For the quaint village of Kizhakkambalam in Kerala's Ernakulam district, stone tiled roads dotted with freshly painted new houses and a supermarket selling vegetables and groceries at half the market price seemed like the ultimate dream come true—a village life with all basic amenities that city people were enjoying not too far away in Kochi in 2015. But five years down the line, the veneer is peeling off Kizhakkambalam grama panchayat run by Twenty 20, an organisation formed by Kitex group of companies.
With the local bodies election round the corner, the ‘corporate panchayat’ is back under the spotlight in Kerala. Kizhakkambalam is probably the only panchayat in India where a corporate runs the local body government.
‘Twenty 20’, an organisation formed by Kitex group, a top garment and aluminium products manufacturing company in Kerala, swept the 2015 elections, winning 17 of the 19 wards in the panchayat and delivering a severe blow to political giants, Congress and the CPI(M), which have wielded power in civic bodies across the state for ages.
Formed by Kitex group managing director Sabu M Jacob in 2013 with an eye on the 2015 panchayat polls, the organisation worked systematically to strengthen its relationship with the people, all funded by its CSR fund.
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