Thiruvananthapuram | In a morale booster for the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala, its candidate K S Sabarinathan today won the Aruvikkara by-elections by defeating nearest Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate M Vijayakumar by 10,128 votes.
In a three-cornered contest, BJP’s O Rajagopal finished third, but registering a nearly five-fold increase in its vote share as compared to previous Assembly election. Mr Sabarinathan is the son of late Assembly speaker G Karthikeyan whose death necessitated the by-election.
The win, the third Assembly by-poll victory in a row, came as a moral booster for Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who had said that the by-poll was a referendum on his four-year-old government.
With this, the UDF majority in the 140-member Assembly will go up to 74. For the LDF, it was yet another loss as it failed to capitalise on a series of scams allegedly involving ministers.
In the rural constituency in the capital district, Mr Sabarinathan secured 56,448 votes, followed by Mr Vijayakumar-46,320 votes and Mr Rajagopal- 34,145 votes. With 1,430 votes, NOTA was in the fourth position.
While a major gain was reported by the BJP which improved its vote share from a mere 7,694 votes in 2011 to 34,145 votes this time, Mr Sabarinathan recorded impressive performance even in panchayats known as Left strong-holds.
After his victory, Mr Sabarinathan drove straight to the State Assembly complex where he celebrated the victory with the Chief Minister, his cabinet colleagues and UDF MLAs. He also visited the KPCC office and met party workers.
On the other hand, it was a major set back for the CPI(M) which went to the poll under a new party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. Senior leaders Pinarayi Vijayan and V S Achuthanandan had played a major role for the party’s campaign in the by-election. Mr Balakrishnan surprised the Left leaders by openly admitting on the eve of the counting that the BJP had gained at the cost of the CPI(M) in the constituency.
The CPI(M) would be forced to rework its strategy as the next Assembly elections in the state was only ten months away. It would also go for Panchayat elections within six months.
In the highly bi-polar politics centering around the UDF and LDF, the BJP was yet to open its account in the Assembly and Parliament seat. Of late, the BJP is emerging as a strong force to reckon with in certain districts. Even in Aruvikkara, where the party is not so strong, the vote share increased to 24 per cent from the previous six per cent.
The spirited performance in the by-election would enable the party to approach the coming elections to the local bodies and the Assembly in a serious manner, putting to rest the past allegations of vote trading. The party’s national leadership is also very keen to put the party in a winning spree.
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