Cong retains Aruvikkara Assembly segment in Kerala

Cong retains Aruvikkara Assembly segment  in Kerala

In a boost to UDF ahead of Assembly polls in Kerala next year, Congress candiate K S Sabarinadhan today won the Aruvikkara Assembly bypoll by a margin of 10,128 votes defeating his nearest rival M Vijayakumar of Opposition LDF.

Sabarinadhan, son of former speaker G Karthikeyan got 56,448 votes while Vijayakumar got 46,320 votes. BJP candiate and former union minister O Rajagopal received 34,145 votes.
Thanking the voters, Sabarinadhan said he will "continue the work left in the constituency by his father Karthikeyan."      He also expressed his gratitude to UDF government and also the people who voted for him braving rains.

He made a special mention of women voters, who outnumbered men in the constituecy, thanking them. The poll was necessitated following the death of Karthikeyan in February last.
An estimated 77.35 per cent voters exercised their franchise during the election held on June 27.

Though there were 16 candidates in the fray, the main contest was between the Congress, CPI-M and BJP candidates. With this, the UDF strength in the Assembly stood at 74 as against LDF's 65 in the 140-member assembly. The lone MLA of Kerala Congress (B) K B Ganesh Kumar, who snapped ties with UDF, is keeping away from both fronts.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the main campaginger for the UDF, had time and again stated that the poll result would be a referendum on the government's performance. Congragulating the young turk, who felled poll veterans, chief minister said, "My good wishes and gratitude to all".

The poll result is considered to be litmus test for both Fronts and BJP as civic elections are due this year end and assembly polls next year.

The outcome is a big relief for the UDF government as the opposition CPI(M) led front had used every opportunity to hit the government on the Solar and Bar Bribe scams.

The Left Front had also tried to prevent Finance minister, K M Mani, facing bar bribe charges, from presenting the state budget on March 13 leading to unprecedented violence and mayhem in the house.

Reacting to the victory, KPCC President, V M Sudheeran, said the poll outcome would stregthen the UDF and the government and that the voters had rejected the opposition's false allegations.

For UDF government, that came to power with a wafer thin majority of two MLA's in 2011 riding on the slogan of development and care, the result is widely considered as a refrendum on the performance of the government.

With this result, the constituency, which has women outnumbering men, seems to have also given the thumbs up to the government's decision to close down over 700 liqour bars in the state as part of the new liqour policy.

Political observers point out that the outcome is a serious setback to LDF Opposition which had severely attacked the Chandy government on corruption allegations.

This is also a third drubbing to the Front in the bypolls since 2012, after the UDF came to power a year ago.In the earlier two bypolls held at Pirvaom and Neyatinkkara, UDF candidates had emerged victorious.
The result is also seen as a huge blow to former CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, who was in-charge of the campaign at Aruvikkara, as he is tipped to be Chief Ministerial candidate, if LDF comes to power after assembly elections to be held next year.

92-year-old V S Achuthanandan, who was the star campaigner for the LDF and drew large crowds, also could not make much inroads into the UDF vote bank.

The result is also an embarassment for the CPI(M), which had put up its own candidate in the constituency after nearly two decades.

Earlier, its former front partner, RSP, had contested the seat.The increasing vote bank of BJP, is giving heart burn to the CPI(M) as the vote erosion is mainly from its kitty, the political observers said.

As far as the BJP is concerned, even though the lotus failed to bloom, Rajagopal, had managed to increase the party's voting percentage significanly giving a tough fight to CPI(M).
G Karthikeyan had represented the segment during the last five times in the assembly.The result is also very crucial for Congress and especialy for Chandy.

A defeat for Congress would have strengthened the move by a section in the party for a leadership change as part of 'image built up of the government'. Another political significant factor is that the bypoll was held in the wake of changes in the partners of UDF and LDF.

The poll results also dealt a setback to former government Chief Whip and dissident Kerala Congress (M) MLA P C George, who was instrumental in putting up an Anti-Corruption Front candidate, much to the discomfort of his party and UDF.

With this win, UDF will have 74 members, and LDF 65 in the 140-member Assembly in which Ganeshkumar, lone MLA of Kerala Congress (B) keeping both the fronts at bay.

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