Kerala

Premachandran has the last laugh

UDF candidate N.K. Premachandran celebrates his victory in the Kollam Lok Sabha constituency on Thursday.  

A damning campaign by the Left that he could defect to the BJP if elected failed to stop N.K. Premachandran in his tracks, as the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) leader cruised to a thumping win in Kollam. His winning margin is 1,49,772, a quantum leap from the 37,649 votes polled by him in 2014 against Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] Polit Bureau member M.A. Baby.

The victory has delivered a breather to the RSP, whose fate would have been in the balance had he lost the election. While CPI(M)’s K.N. Balagopal lost ground in the strong UDF wave that swept the State, there has been no incriminating dent in BJP votes. Mr. Premachandran maintained a clear lead in all the Assembly segments, including Left strongholds like Punalur, Chadayamangalam, and Chathannur.

Once a formidable ally of the Left, he fell out with the alliance in 2014 over seat-sharing and handed the CPI(M) a humiliating defeat in the general elections. A disparaging remark made by the then CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan — which he repeated this time as well — against Mr. Premachandran had led to a verbal duel between both fronts.

Mr. Balagopal, CPI(M) State secretariat member and former district secretary, who has a clean image and wide local support, was no easy opponent and all through the campaign, Mr. Premachandran had drawn flak for his alleged soft Hindutva stand. But Mr. Premachandran’s image as an accessible MP along with his parliamentary interventions might have worked in his favour.

While there has been a surge in voter turnout, the dip in traditional CPI(M) votes points to the fact that the Left had underestimated certain elements, including its stand on Sabarimala. Segment-wise, there has been no major drain from traditional UDF votes while there seems to have occurred a consolidation of minority and neutral votes in favour of Mr. Premachandran.


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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 7:28:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/premachandran-has-the-last-laugh/article27227993.ece

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