Ruling United Democratic Front’s Congress nominee R. Selvaraj has registered a convincing victory in the fiercely fought three-cornered contest in the Neyyattinkara Assembly by-election in Kerala. After trailing behind his two main rivals in the early rounds, Mr. Selvaraj romped home with a margin of 6,334 votes, pushing up the UDF’s slender majority in the 140-member Kerala Assembly to 73.

The UDF has wrested the Neyyattinkara seat from the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) which had won it through Mr. Selvaraj who had contested the 2011 Assembly election as a Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate. He had won the election by a margin of 6,702 votes, defeating Congress nominee Thampanoor Ravi. However, Mr. Selvaraj dealt a blow to the CPI(M) and LDF three months ago by resigning his membership in the CPI(M) and the State Assembly, thereby necessitating the by-poll.

BJP gathers support

In the by-election which saw Bharatiya Janata Party’s O. Rajagopal putting up a strong show, Mr. Selvaraj secured 52,528 votes against CPI(M) nominee F. Lawrence’s 46,194 votes. Equally significant as Mr. Selvaraj’s victory was Mr. Rajagopal’s strong showing. He raised his party’s tally in the constituency by over four-fold as compared to 2011 Assembly election by securing 30,507 votes. The BJP nominee had secured only 6,730 votes in 2011.

UDF elated

Reacting to the UDF win, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said it was endorsement of UDF rule and proof that the people of Kerala did not approve of the ‘politics of murder and violence being practiced’ by the CPI(M). Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala said that UDF victory a strong reply to the ‘politics of murder’ of the CPI(M) and an expression of the people’s faith in the Oommen Chandy government and the UDF.

Official results can be viewed at trend.kerala.gov.in