Kerala Bypolls: CPI-M Wrests Konni Assembly Seat from Congress after 23 Years; BJP Fails to Leave a Mark
Thiruvananthapuram: The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), led by the Communist Party of India (Marxists) has wrested the Konni Assembly seat from the Congress-led UDF after 23 years with their candidate KU Janeesh Kumar winning the seat by a margin of 10,000 votes.
Kumar bagged 54,099 votes against his nearest rival P Mohanraj of the Congress who got 44,146 votes.
Konni falls under the Pathanamthitta district which was at the epicentre of the Sabarimala agitation, which the BJP had hoped to cash in, but failed to make any inroads. It had fielded K Surendran, party’s state general secretary who was at the forefront of the Sabarimala agitation, who secured 39,786 votes.
Konni was represented by Congress leader and former minister Adoor Prakash since 1996 and fell vacant after he won the Lok Sabha elections from Attingal constituency earlier this year.
CPI-M leader MB Rajesh said, “The BJP had created a smokescreen and people are now able to see through it. Voters, who were misled in the parliamentary elections, have had reality check and that is reflected in the election results. Both the BJP and UDF'S vote share has come down in Konni. In less than five months, the BJP’s share of the BJP has come down by about 2%.”
Kumar said, “This is a victory of people. We faced these elections on the basis of politics and achievements of the LDF government. Voters have reiterated their support for the Left Front government."
However, BJP state president Sreedharan Pillai said the party has won more votes that it had secured in the 2016 assembly elections. “We are experimenting in the elections looking at a long-term future and we have got more votes than we expected,” said Pillai.
Results of Other Bypolls in State
Meanwhile, the UDF tasted defeat in another of its stronghold of Vattiyoorkavu, while it retained two seats and won from the Marxist bastion of Aroor. The BJP was blanked out.
Thiruvananthapuram Mayor VK Prasanth won from Vattiyoorkavu by a margin of over 14,465 votes against his nearest Congress rival K Mohankumar. Vattiyoorkavu was held by senior Congress leader K Muraleedharan for two terms since 2011 when the constituency was formed.
However, the LDF tasted defeat at Aroor, a CPI(M) stronghold where UDF's Shanimol Usman, who had unsuccessfully contested the April Lok Sabha slections from Alappuzha, won by a margin of 2,079 votes.
In a tweet, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan thanked the people of Kerala for the support given to the policies of the LDF government.
"Thank you Kerala. We are humbled by your support for the Government. The Left Democratic Front has made significant gains. Kerala has once again rejected the politics of hate and reiterated its commitment to progressive politics. My warm greetings to all the elected MLAs," he said. "The results indicate a resounding support for the policies of the government," he added.
The UDF won the Manjeshwaram seat where MC Kamaruddin (IUML) won by a margin of 7,923 votes against BJP's Raveesh Thanthri Kuntar. While Kamaruddin polled 65,407 votes, Thantri got 57,484 votes. LDF candidate Shankara Rai (CPI-M), who was pushed to the third position, could bag only 38,233 votes.
The UDF retained the Ernakulam seat as its candidate TJ Vinod, deputy Mayor of Kochi corporation, defeated his nearest rival advocate Manu Roy, the LDF-Independent candidate by over 3,750 votes.
Vinod had polled 37,891 votes, while Manu Roy garnered 34,141 votes. Manu Roy's namesake managed to poll 2572 votes, while the consituency also got the maximum NOTA votes of 1,309.
While by-elections were held to Vattiyoorkavu, Konni, Aroor and Ernakulam constituencies as sitting MLAs successfully contested to the Lok Sabha, in Manjeshwaram, the death of sitting IUML MLA, Abdul Razak, necessitated the bypoll.
The defeat at Vatiyoorkavu and Konni comes as a rude shock for the UDF which had won 19 of the 20 Lok Sabha seats in the Lok Sabha polls in May this year. In the recent Pala bypoll also, the front suffered defeat at the hands of the LDF as the Kerala Congress (M) stronghold went to the Left Front after 50 years.
Following the bypoll outcome, the LDF's strength has now gone up to 93, while that of UDF 45 in the 140-member House. The BJP has a lone member, while PC George is an independent candidate. The House also has nominated member of the Anglo Indian community.
(With inputs from PTI)