CPM retains Chengannur seat with thumping win

CPM retains Chengannur seat with thumping win

Saji Cheriyan polled 67,303 votes while the Congress-led UDF candidate D Vijaykumar got 46,347 votes and BJP's P S Sreedharan Pillai came third with 35,270 votes.

Kerala’s ruling CPM retained the Chengannur seat on Thursday with its candidate Saji Cherian winning the by-election to the Assembly constituency by a thumping margin of 20,956 votes.

Cherian secured 67,303 votes while D Vijayakumar of the Congress finished second with 46,347 votes, ahead of the BJP’s P S Sreedharan Pillai who secured 35,270 votes.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the massive victory of Cherian, the CPM’s Alappuzha district secretary, was the people’s endorsement of the Left Democratic Front government over its two years in office. The party’s 2016 victory margin, when K K Ramachandran Nair won, was 7,983 votes.

For the Congress-led Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF), the result comes as a dampener when it’s mobilising dissent against what it calls are repeated failures in the enforcement of law and order. The last-lap support extended by estranged former ally Kerala Congress (M) also did not help the UDF.

The third-place finish with a substantial drop in the number of votes is set to raise new questions for the BJP as well. The party fielded Pillai who had also contested the 2016 election at a time it was raising the pitch as a viable alternative in the state’s bipolar political space.

The NOTA option was used by 728 voters in the constituency.

The death of CPM’s sitting MLA, Nair, in January necessitated the May 28 by-election.

The constituency registered a 76.25% voter turnout at the by-poll which had 17 candidates in the fray.

CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the election result proved that the “soft-Hindutva” approach of the Congress was ineffective in countering forces affiliated to the Sangh Parivar.

In the 2016 Assembly election, Nair had secured 52,880 votes (36.38 %) while the Congress’ P C Vishnunath ended up second with 44,897 votes (30.89 %) and Sreedharan Pillai secured 42,682 votes (29.36 %).