Sweet and sour for Congress, CPI(M) in Kerala bypolls

For the Congress-led UDF and the CPI (M)-led LDF, the results were sweet and sour. While the UDF lost two of its sitting seats to the ruling LDF, the LDF lost one sitting seat to the UDF.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) won three seats and the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) won two seats in the recently declared results of the bypolls to five Assembly seats in Kerala.

For the UDF and the LDF, the results were sweet and sour. While the UDF lost two of its sitting seats to the ruling LDF, the LDF lost one sitting seat to the UDF.

The BJP didn't improve its performance and failed to open its account again. The election results also come as a setback for the community leaders who took open political stands.

A major setback for the UDF was the loss of the Konni seat in Pathanamthitta held by the Congress since 1996 and the Vattiyoorkavu seat in Thiruvananthapuram held by it since 2011. For the LDF, the major setback was the loss of the Aroor seat held by the CPI (M) since 2006 with a winning margin of over 38,000 votes in 2016.

The ruling LDF already has a clear majority in the Kerala Assembly.

Hopes dashed

The BJP came second only in the Manjeswaram constituency in Kasargod. The BJP's Ravish Thantri Kuntar lost by over 10,000 votes. In 2016, the party's state general secretary K Surendran had lost the seat by just 89 votes. 

Though the BJP had hopes of gaining from the Sabarimala women entry issue in the Konni seat, which is close to the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, K Surendran, who led the Sabarimala protests, could only emerge in third place. At Vattiyoorkavu in Thiruvananthapuram, where the BJP came second in the 2016 Assembly polls and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls with senior leader Kummanam Rajasekharan, the party seems to have paid the price for denying a seat to Rajasekharan this time. The BJP's S Suresh got third place with only around 27,400 votes, compared to 43,700 polled by Rajasekharan in 2016.

Setback for community leaders

The Kerala bypoll results are a major setback for community leaders, especially the ones belonging to the Hindu Nair and the Ezhava communities. The Nair Service Society (NSS), a forum of the Nair community, maintained a pro-UDF stand. NSS General Secretary Sukumaran Nair had made an open call to community members to maintain the 'right distance' policy. He openly flayed the LDF and the BJP and the NSS workers campaigned for the Congress candidate in Vattiyoorkavu where the community had a notable presence. The Congress lost to the CPI(M) by over 14,000 votes in the constituency.

Meanwhile, Vellapally Natesan, General Secretary of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, a forum of the Hindu Ezhava community, maintained a pro-LDF stand and campaigned against the Congress's Aroor candidate Shanimol Usman who won the seat.

The BJP's push to win the support of the Orthodox faction of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church also failed in Konni where the faction had a sizable vote bank.

Doubly sweet victory

The victory of Shanimol Usman of the Congress in Aroor in Alappuzha is doubly sweet as she not only regained the Aroor seat from the CPI(M) after 13 years but she also made up for the loss that she suffered in the Lok Sabha elections. In the recent 2019 polls, Shanimol, who was the first woman AICC secretary from Kerala, contested from the Alappuzha Lok Sabha seat, which comprises the Aroor Assembly segment. She was the lone UDF candidate who was defeated in Kerala in the Lok Sabha polls, while the other 19 got victories. Shanimol, who is in her early 50s, won by a slim margin of 1,955 votes.

The LDF grabbed the Vattiyoorkavu seat from the Congress with a thumping victory of the CPI(M)'s VK Prasanth by a margin of 14,450 votes. Thirty-seven-year old Prasanth, who is the city mayor, is popularly known as 'Mayor Bro' owing to his connect with youngsters. His initiatives of pooling relief materials for distribution to flood- and calamity-affected areas this year were appreciated. This helped the Left Front to regain the Vattiyoorkavu seat, where it was in third place in the last Lok Sabha and the last Assembly polls.

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