Kerala

Shanimol on firm ground at LDF citadel

Wait ends: UDF candidate Shanimol Usman celebrates her victory in the Aroor Assembly bypoll on Thursday.

Wait ends: UDF candidate Shanimol Usman celebrates her victory in the Aroor Assembly bypoll on Thursday.  

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In a close fight, the Congress leader bags Aroor for UDF after a gap of 13 years

The Congress-led opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) has wrested the Aroor Assembly seat from the Left Democratic Front (LDF) after a gap of 13 years.

In a nail-biting contest, Congress candidate Shanimol Usman defeated her nearest rival Manu C. Pulickal of the CPI(M) by a margin of 2,079 votes. Ms. Usman garnered 69,356 votes against the 67,277 votes polled by the LDF candidate. National Democratic Alliance candidate Prakash Babu of the BJP finished a distant third with 16,289 votes.

Of the five constituencies that went to the polls in the State, Aroor was the ruling LDF’s sole sitting seat. Considered a CPI(M) citadel, Ms. Usman was able to maintain a slender but steady lead in the constituency right from the beginning. Ms. Usman polled big in the UDF stronghold panchayat of Ezhupunna, while making inroads into the LDF-ruled panchayats of Thuravoor, Thycattusserry, Aroor, Kuttiyathodu, and Arookutty. Mr. Pulickal gained upper hand in Pallipuram, Panavally, Perumbalam, and Kodamthuruth panchayats.

Factors in favour

The byelection results show that Ms. Usman, who lost the Parliament election from the Alappuzha seat against A.M. Ariff of the CPI(M), but still gained a lead of 648 votes in the Aroor Assembly segment, continued to enjoy the patronage of the Muslim community and to an extent the Ezhava community, the latter the most dominant community in Aroor. The UDF had raked up the Sabarimala issue during electioneering with an eye on the Hindu votes.

The Congress also successfully worked out sentiments of Ms. Usman losing three previous elections — two to Assembly and one to Lok Sabha — in her favour.

In the meantime, the vote share of the LDF, which was banking largely on the Ezhava community and its outfit Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam along with Christian community to retain the seat, decreased by 15,364 votes compared to the 2016 Assembly election. The UDF’s share increased by 23,155 votes while the NDA lost 11,464 votes in comparison.

Controversies

Controversies, including a police case registered under non-bailable sections against Ms. Usman in the middle of electioneering for blocking a road repair work, the ‘Putana’ remark made by Public Works Minister G. Sudhakaran and the controversy surrounding the alleged ‘feast’ arranged by the family of Mr. Pulickal for the soldiers of Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer, all seem to have played a part in the defeat of the LDF.

The bypoll was necessitated by Mr. Ariff’s election to the Lok Sabha from the Alappuzha parliamentary seat.

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Printable version | Dec 11, 2019 6:25:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/shanimol-on-firm-ground-at-ldf-citadel/article29790070.ece

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