Vote trade allegations dominate Kerala bypoll campaigns

File Photo.

 As campaigns for by-polls to five assembly seats in Kerala are hotting up, vote trade allegations are dominating the campaigns, especially at three seats where strong triangular fights are expected.

Vattiyoorkavu in Thiruvananthapuram, Konni in Pathanamthitta and Manjeswaram in Kasargod are the three seats where strong triangular fights are expected. For this reason, the political parties are raising allegations and counter-allegations of vote trade deals between parties. Both the Congress-led United Democratic Front and CPM-led Left Democratic Front were accusing each other of vote trade with BJP, while BJP leaders reacted that it was out of fear of getting defeated in the polls that the Congress and CPM are raising allegations of vote trade.

BJP is having high hopes at Vattiyoorkavu and Manjeswaram as they came second in these two seats in 2016 Assembly elections. Konni is close to Sabarimala Ayyappa temple and hence the BJP fielded party state general secretary K Surendran, who led the stirs against women entry to Sabarimala temple, with high hopes of tapping Hindu votes.

Kerala PCC president Mullappally Ramachandran set the ball rolling by alleging of CPM-BJP vote trade understandings at these three constituencies. CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan countered it with the counter allegation of vote trade deals between Congress and BJP. BJP leader K Surendran rejected the allegations and commented that both Congress and CPM had been indulging in vote trades over these years.

One key reason that ignited vote trade allegations against BJP was the denial of one more chance to runners up in 2016 polls at two seats. Surendran lost by just 89 votes at Manjeswaram to UDF's Abdul Razak in 2016 polls, while former governor of Mizoram, Kummanam Rajasekharan, came second in Vattiyoorkavu in 2016, pushing the CPM to the third place.

A major section of party workers at Manjeswaram and Vattiyoorkavu were expecting that Surendran and Kummanam would contest again at these constituencies and have a walkover. Hence the allegations that a section of BJP workers at these seats may trade votes to ensure the defeat of existing candidates - Ravish Tantri Kuntar at Manjeswaram and S Suresh at Vattiyoorkavu.

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