In what can be termed as a mixed win in Kerala, both United Democratic Front (UDF) and Left Democratic Front (LDF) have some things to cheer and a few other reasons to go back to the drawing board. Continuing with the trend of keeping saffron parties out of the state, UDF has won three seats and LDF two. BJP stares at a blank in Kerala again.
UDF won Ernakulam, and is leading in Aroor, while its alliance partner Indian Union Muslim League has retained Manjeshwaram constituency. LDF won Konni in Pathanamthitta district and Vattiyoorkavu in the state capital.
LDF has won in Konni, which is in Pathanamthitta, where the Sabarimala temple is situated. With this win, Pathanamthitta district has turned red as all the five MLAs from the district are from LDF. Marking a grand comeback for LDF in the district, Janeesh Kumar won the seat with a margin of almost 10,000 votes.
With this win, some of the Sabarimala ghosts can be buried by the LDF, and BJP’s decision to field K Surendran, who led the Sabarimala protests, comes a cropper as he finished a poor third.
Konni seat was vacated by former Congress minister Adoor Prakash after he won the Attingal Lok Sabha polls, but his preferred candidate was not given the seat, instead Congress had fielded P Mohanraj, who finished second.
The ruling LDF wrested the important Vattiyoorkavu seat in Thiruvananthapuram from the Congress, in what had become a battle of prestige for both the parties. LDF's VK Prasanth won the seat by a margin of over 14,000 votes. In fact, CPI(M) had taken a gamble and fielded an Ezhava candidate in the Nair-dominated constituency. The young CPI(M) candidate was the Mayor in Thiruvananthapuram and his work clearly has played a major role in his win.
Ezhavas are in a minority in the constituency. He won not just in Ezhava or Christian wards but also in Nair-dominated areas such as Pattom, PTP Nagar, Kodunganoor, Vattiyoorkavu and Thruthummmola. He led in all major wards in the constituency.
United Democratic Front's K Mohankumar of Congress got 40,344 votes. National Democratic Alliance's S Suresh of Bharatiya Janata Party finished third with 27,425 votes.
In the run up-to the campaigning in the Vattiyoorkavu, the Nair Service Society (NSS), which claims to wield considerable influence among the Nair community, had indicated that its support will be for the UDF. Despite that the UDF candidate lost.
Ernakulam, which is considered to be an UDF bastion, UDF's TJ Vinod won the bypoll by a margin of only 3,673 votes. Vinod got 37,516 votes against LDF-backed independent Manu Roy's 33,843. NDA's CG Rajagopal got a meagre 13,259 votes. Heavy rains on polling day had caused the voter turnout to be only 53.32 per cent.
This seat was vacated by Hibi Eden, who won the Ernakulam Lok Sabha elections. In 2016 assembly polls, when the polling percentage was 77.53, UDF's Hibi Eden had polled 57,819 votes and won by a margin of 21,949 votes.
Congress has emerged triumphant in the coastal constituency of Aroor after at least 60 years. Shanimol Usman of the Congress defeated Manu C Pulikkal of the CPM in the Aroor bypoll by close to 2,000 votes. Victory here is a major relief for the opposition UDF in the state, where it lost two sitting seats in the byelections.
National Democratic Alliance candidate Prakash Babu of the BJP finished a distant third with 16,289 votes.
Aroor was the ruling LDF’s sole seat where it had a sitting legislator. Considered a CPI(M) citadel, LDF candidate AM Ariff romped to victory in Aroor for the third time in a row in the 2016 Assembly elections by a margin of 38,519 votes. Ariff had vacated the seat after he won the Alappuzha Lok Sabha elections.
In Manjeshwaram, where the BJP lost by a mere 89 votes in 2016 polls to UDF, Congress ally Muslim League candidate MC Kamarudheen won by almost 8,000 votes, defeating Ravish Thanthri Kuntar of BJP. LDF candidate Sankar Rai could get only 38,233 votes. The bypoll was necessitated after sitting MLA PB Abdul Razak passed away in October last year.
With this victory in Manjeshwaram, IUML will have 18 MLAs and three MPs.