THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At the AKG Centre, no one had expected that the LDF candidate would finish a trailing third. Not until it was 8.30 am.
At sharp 8 am, everyone present was seated before a TV in the reception area. LDF convenor Vaikom Viswan went to the meeting room, where CITU leader Anathalavattom Anandan and others were waiting. Since media was not allowed in there, TV and press crew waited in the reception area.
A party worker was lending finishing touches to a digital poster that had Sonia Gandhi’s photograph, with a line that can be roughly translated as ‘We are Defeated’.
Sitting on the edge of their seats, the party workers looked a lot like the spectators of a cricket match. They survived the first few reports of Tharoor’s lead with great fortitude. Soon, Rajagopal’s lead was seen rising, surpassing that of Tharoor. “Rajagopal is leading? With 500 (votes)?” a party worker asked, unable to digest the fact.
Half an hour had passed. The name Bennet Abraham was not mentioned, even once. Slowly the party workers started sinking into their plastic chairs.
CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and district secretary Kadakampally Surendran arrived at the party headquarters around 9 am and headed straight inside. Former minister Kadannappally Ramachandran and CPM politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan also visited the Centre.
Rajagopal’s lead increased. The party workers slowly reconciled to the reality that Bennet stood no chance. A couple of them even dozed off. Suddenly, there was a loud cheer for the BJP outside AKG centre. A vehicle full of BJP workers had sped past. Luckily, no untoward incident took place.
All of a sudden, AKG Centre woke up. Rajagopal’s lead was dropping from 6,000 to 4,000 and then to 3,000. Though Bennet was not in the picture, the members began to enjoy the ‘match’ between Tharoor and Rajagopal, with a vengeance.
Occasionally, the Centre would erupt with claps and cheers for winning LDF candidates in other constituencies. A comrade from Kannur was biting his nails until Sreemathi Teacher scraped through, with a little over 6,000 votes. That was the first good news in the day.
As Tharoor began to lead, Congress workers shouted “Zindabad!” outside the Centre, and fled away in a vehicle. By afternoon, Vaikom Viswan came out to meet the media. He said that the UDF succeeded because its strategy was to influence the minority vote banks.
He also said that this time LDF has got more seats than last time. He added that the party is going to ponder over the loss in Kollam. After he left, few remained at the Centre to watch Tharoor win.