Kerala

UDF wave drowns LDF in State

Ariff lone winner for CPI(M), BJP draws a blank

The United Democratic Front (UDF) has made an astounding sweep in the Lok Sabha elections, winning 19 of the 20 seats that went to the polls in the state.

The Left Democratic Front had to console itself with a victory in Alappuzha, where CPI(M) candidate A. M. Ariff, sitting legislator of Aroor Assembly segment, defeated his nearest rival Shanimol Usman of the Congress by over 9,000 votes. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which led the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), drew a blank, leaving its leadership much disappointed.

The highlight of the UDF performance was obviously the thumping victory of Congress president Rahul Gandhi who defeated his nearest LDF rival P.P. Suneer of the Communist Party of India (CPI) by a margin of 4.31 lakh votes. The fact that 10 UDF candidates notched up winning margins of over 1 lakh votes and another six garnered over 50,000 votes sets out the scale of victory. The winning trend was set quite early in the day when counting began right on time on Thursday. The heat was felt only in Alappuzha, where the winner emerged only late afternoon.

One-lakh club

Apart from Mr. Gandhi, the “lakhpatis” included Indian Union Muslim League leaders P.K. Kunhalikutty who won the Malappuram seat by over 2.6 lakh, E.T. Mohammed Basheer from Ponnani (1.93 lakh votes) Kerala Congress (M) candidate Thomas Chazhikadan (1.06 lakh votes) from Kottayam, Revolutionary Socialist Party leader N.K. Premachandran from Kollam (1.49 lakh votes) Congress candidates Dean Kuriakose (1.71 lakh votes) from Idukki, Hibi Eden from Ernakulam (1.69 lakh votes)) Ramya Haridas from Alathur (1.58 lakh votes), Benny Behanan from Chalakudy (1.32 lakh votes), and Shashi Tharoor from Thiruvananthapuram (1 lakh votes).

The victory of Ms. Ramya who defeated her nearest CPI(M) rival and sitting MP P.K. Biju was the most stellar one. The range of her victory can be gauged by the fact that she happens to be second woman from the Dalit Community to win a Parliament seat after Bharghavi Thankkappan of the CPI, that too by capturing a constituency which was considered a bastion of the CPI(M) by a stupendous margin.

Malabar sweep

The Congress made a clean sweep of the Malabar. The highlight here is the victory of Rajmohan Unnithan, who boarded the train from Thiruvananthapuram, to fight what was thought to be a losing battle at that time. Mr. Unnithan broke the CPI(M)’s two-decade-long winning streak in Kasaragod, defeating its nominee K.P. Sathish Chandran with an impressive margin of over 40,000 votes.

K. Muraleedharan made his re-entry into Malabar politics by defeating highly rated CPI(M) candidate P. Jayarajan by a margin of over 84,000 votes, while M.K. Raghavan got re-elected with aplomb from Kozhikode by a margin of over 85,000 votes defeating sitting legislator A.Pradeep of the CPI(M). K Sudhakaran had a sweet revenge when he recaptured the Kannur seat from P K Sreemathi of the CPI(M) by over 96,000 by making huge inroads in virtual fortresses of the CPI(M) where he reduced her leads.

Further south, Adoor Prakash captured the Attingal seat from the CPI(M) defeating A. Sampath, sitting MP of the CPI(M) by over 39,000 votes, while Kodikunnil Suresh thwarted ominous headwinds to defeat his nearest rival Chittayam Gopi by a margin of over 61,000 votes.

The electoral verdict also found five of the LDF legislators, with the sole exception of Mr. Ariff, along with an equal number of its sitting MPs going down under the UDF bulldozer.

Surprise winner

Congress candidate V.K. Sreekantan’s victory came as a surprise because of the tough terrain he had to travel during electioneering. Even though he registered the lowest margin of over 11,000 votes against his nearest rival M.B. Rajesh, the victory was sweet because the Congress was able to recapture the seat from the CPI(M) after over a decade.

The BJP’s performance was quite disappointing considering the high stakes it had placed for itself in winning a Parliament seat on the strength of its Sabarimala agitation. It can take small consolation in the fact that it succeeded in making incremental increases in votes in five constituencies where it polled between 2 lakhs to over 3 lakh votes, with former BJP State president Kummanam Rajasekharan cornering 3.31 lakh votes and coming second in Thiruvananthapuram.

But it did not add glitter because of the margin that his nearest rival Shashi Tharoor got. It will take a long time for the BJP to live down its electoral show, particularly in Pathanamthitta and Thiruvananthapuram.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 8:06:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/udf-wave-drowns-ldf-in-state/article27226371.ece

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