United Democratic Front candidate Anoop Jacob won the by-election from the Piravom Assembly constituency in Kerala on Wednesday with a margin of 12,070 votes.

Mr. Anoop Jacob (Kerala Congress-Jacob) bagged 82,756 votes against 70,686 votes secured by his nearest rival and Left Democratic Front candidate M. J. Jacob (CPI-M). BJP candidate K.R. Rajagopal ended up a distant third with 3241 votes. (The Congress-led United Democratic Front is the ruling Front in Kerala and the bypoll result comes as a boost to the Front which has only a slender majority in the Assembly).

In the 2011 general elections, Mr. Anoop’s father T. M. Jacob had won from the constituency with a margin of just 157 votes. Anoop Jacob stepped in after the death of his father, then Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, on October 31 last year. He put up quite an impressive show by raising the winning margin of his father..

Mr. Anoop Jacob has been leading steadily since the counting began at 8 am this morning but for a slight advantage of 300-odd votes for Mr. M. J. Jacob at one point. The Left Democratic Front candidate trailed in most of the panchayats. The margin climbed to more than 10,000 within one and a half hours into the counting.

The first round of counting began with the service ballots. Out of 323 service ballots issued by the returning officer, 316 had been returned. On completion of the first round, Anoop Jacob had a slender lead of 127 votes. He secured 7,567 votes as against M. J. Jacob’s 7,438 votes. BJP candidate had 578 votes at this point.

Halfway through the counting, Anoop had a lead of 4,440 votes. He had secured 42,419 votes as against 37,979 for M. J. Jacob, when counting votes from 71 booths of the 135 booths were completed by 9 am.

Television channels started live coverage of counting as early as 7 am when the officials took their positions at the 14 tables set up for counting at the Muvattupuzha Nirmala Junior School; and those glued to the television sets were expecting a tight competition since the contest was between T.M. Jacob and M.J. Jacob last time.

However, the trend soon became evident and the UDF supporters broke into celebrations straight away. The decisive victory at Piravom will stand the UDF in good stead as the focus now moves to Neyyantikkara, where the CPI (M) Member of Assembly R. Selvaraj resigned amidst the election campaign here.