KOCHI: Casting a pall of gloom over the UDF camp in the district, the Left Democratic Front emerged victorious in the by-election held in Vyttila Janatha division just ahead of the Lok Sabha election.
LDF’s Baiju Thottally defeated UDF’s Shelby Antony by 58 votes. While Shelby secured 1,628 out of 3,811 votes polled, Baiju posted his success with 1,686 votes. Since the by-poll results are coming barely a few months before the LS elections, the outcome is loaded with political overtones for the ruling LDF.
However, the election result seems to have played a spoilsport game for the BJP and AAP which are all set to post a strong candidate in the upcoming election from the Ernakulam constituency. In the election, the BJP could receive only 378 votes and it was 287 in the last election. Meanwhile, AAP candidate Foji John could get only 119 votes.
It was the demise of Congress councillor M Premachandran, who was a member of the finance standing committee, that necessitated the by-election. For the LDF, it was an act of sweet revenge as Thottally lost to Premachandran for just 19 votes in the 2015 election.
“It is a clear reply of the public to the UDF’s administration in the Kochi Corporation. As we said earlier, Premachandran was one of the UDF’s stalwarts, but he never received due respect from the Congress district leadership. Though he was in the fray for the Deputy Mayor’s post, it was denied to him. This has already sent negative vibes among Congress workers and that is what is reflected here. We were sure we could post a victory in the election,” said V P Chandran, LDF councillor and Parliamentary Party secretary.
Meanwhile, the Opposition used the victory as a campaign for a change of guard in the Corporation.
“It is a major jolt to the Corporation as they lost in their own camp. The Corporation was a failure in waste management which resulted in the NGT slapping a fine of R1 crore. Even the city has a metro tag, the online facilities are still in the cold storage. Since the election result is considered as people’s verdict on the Corporation’s administration, the Mayor should resign with immediate effect,” said K J Antony, Opposition leader.
Though the LDF’s victory is not capable to bring a change of guard in the Corporation, it can bring changes in the Finance Standing Committee. Since Premachandran was a member of the Finance Standing Committee, the by-poll defeat is a disastrous consequence for the UDF. It would be hard for the Deputy Mayor who is heading the finance committee to prove the majority.