A political tsunami triggered primarily by public anger against the Oommen Chandy government has swept the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) out of power in Kerala, even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made history by winning its first seat in the State Assembly.
The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) roared back to power winning 91 seats against 47 of the UDF in the 140-member House. The BJP’s victory came through party veteran O. Rajagopal, who won the Nemom constituency in the State capital by a margin of 8,671 votes. The party came very close to victory in Manjeswaram, where its nominee, K. Surendran, lost by a wafer-thin margin of 89 votes.
The surprise of these elections was the victory of former Government Chief Whip P.C. George, who had broken away from the ruling alliance but could not find a place in the LDF. He won by a massive margin of 27,821 votes in Poonjar, defeating all three major players in the fray.Defeated Ministers
Speaker N. Sakthan, Deputy Speaker Palode Ravi, Excise Minister K. Babu, Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan, Labour Minister Shibu Baby John and Scheduled Tribe Development Minister P.K. Jayalakshmy and Government Chief Whip Thomas Unniyadan were among the key losers from the UDF, which drew a blank in Kollam in the south and lost all but one seat in Thrissur and Alappuzha districts. The LDF put up an impressive show in Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Palakkad, Kozhikode and Kannur districts as well, in the process taking the wind out of UDF sails.
Key winners for the LDF included Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Pinarayi Vijayan, former Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac, CPI(M) Central committee members E.P. Jayarajan, K.K. Shylaja, A.K. Balan and G. Sudhakaran, former Food Minister C. Divakaran, film actors Mukesh and K.B. Ganesh Kumar, and Muhammed Muhassin, fresh out of JNU.No big impact
The BJP’s gamble of teaming up with the newly formed Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) does not appear to have produced any big impact, though the BJP could emerge second in over half-a-dozen seats. On the contrary, the LDF’s strategy of creating a division in the traditional support base of the Indian Union Muslim League seems to have succeeded with the LDF-backed Independents breaking into three seats in Malappuram, considered an IUML citadel.