ALAPPUZHA: Crushing the hopes of a Congress-led UDF revival in Kerala's Chengannur bypoll, the Left Democratic Front recorded an assertive victory. In a tight right triangular contest, CPM's candidate Saji Cherian won with a thumping majority with a lead of 20956 over his nearest rival D Vijayakumar of the Congress.
Despite high voltage campaigns, BJP candidate PS Sreedharan Pillai was pushed to the third slot. While Cherian polled 67,303, Vijayakumar got 46,347 and BJP’s P S Sreedharan Pillai was at a distant third at 35,270.
The Left victory has brought in a much needed relief and is a morale booster for the ruling front, which was reeling under allegations of police lapses.
Cherian told reporters that the voting showed the growing support for the CPM-led LDF across the state, and it was a referendum of the Left Front’s two year’s rule in Kerala. “I have received votes from all sections of the people,” he said.
The victory for the LDF came despite fears in the Left camp that the murder of Dalit Christian Kevin P Joseph on the voting day would affect the public sentiments in favour of the UDF.
Meanwhile UDF candidate D Vijayakumar alleged a nexus between the BJP and the CPM. Vijayakumar also demanded that the Congress leadership should probe what went wrong and how the UDF lost upper hand in its traditional strongholds.
Senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Oomen Chandy termed the outcome as unexpected.
Conceding defeat, BJP candidate Sreedharan Pillai accused Congress of shifting its votes in favour of the Left candidate.
The election was necessitated following the death of CPM MLA KK Ramachandran Master. In the last election, he had won by a margin of 7983 votes.
Curiously, the LDF victory has also vindicated the stance taken by CPI and veteran VS Achuthanandan in the KM Mani fiasco. Both CPI and VS had insisted that the Left does not need Kerala Congress support to win. "The LDF victory has once again proven that the Left does not need KM Mani's support in Kerala," pointed out VS Achuthanandan.