Surprise Lok Sabha candidates and unexpected numbers in Kerala

Shafi’s LS candidature in Vadakara came as a surprise since his name was not even doing the rounds among the list of probables, much less Vadakara.
Congress leader Shafi Parambil
Congress leader Shafi ParambilPhoto | Express

KOCHI: Their candidatures had taken many by surprise. And when the results were out, some of them managed to spring surprises again. Among them, Shafi Parambil of the Congress won the Vadakara seat by a huge margin of 1,14,753 votes, considering his nearest rival was a heavyweight candidate -- K K Shailaja of the CPM.

Shafi’s LS candidature in Vadakara came as a surprise since his name was not even doing the rounds among the list of probables, much less Vadakara. The incumbent Palakkad MLA had a tough fight on his hands against Shailaja, the current Mattannur MLA. It was believed that Shailaja’s stint as the health minister during the Nipah and Covid outbreaks, coupled with her rapport with the people, would work in her favour. But Shafi’s mass appeal and the T P Chandrasekharan factor swung votes UDF’s way, as he polled 5,50,930 votes.

Another of UDF’s surprise candidates, K Muraleedharan in Thrissur, failed miserably. The so-called tactical move by the UDF to pit Muraleedharan against Suresh Gopi after the former’s sister, Padmaja Venugopal, joined the BJP didn’t play out as wished for. It should be recalled that the name of T N Prathapan -- the incumbent Thrissur MP -- had been doing the rounds till the last moment. His name had even featured on graffiti as the UDF candidate for the seat. At the same time, Muraleedharan, the incumbent Vadakara MP, had wanted to retain his seat.

Various factors, like the in-fighting in the UDF, loss of Christian votes, and the Thrissur Pooram fiasco played against him. Muraleedharan (3,28,124) was pushed to a measly third place behind Suresh Gopi (4,12,338) and LDF’s V Sunilkumar (3,37,652).

Women candidates Sobha Surendran and Annie Raja, who were transplanted to new places, managed to put up good performances even though they failed to win the seats. For Sobha Surendran, the fight was happening on two fronts. She was not the popular choice of the state BJP and was at loggerheads with nearly the entire state leadership. However, she polled 2,95,841 votes, getting 1,08,112 votes more than BJP’s 2019 candidate K S Radhakrishnan. He had polled 1,87,729 votes. She finished third, behind UDF’s K C Venugopal (3,98,246) and LDF’s A M Ariff (3,35,596).

Congress leader Shafi Parambil
Kerala: BJP fields its state president Surendran against Rahul Gandhi, CPI's Annie Raja in Wayanad

As for LDF’s Wayanad candidate Annie Raja, the nomination was meant to be a homecoming. The Left front had nominated her for the seat banking on her status as a member of a family of migrant farmers, women’s rights activist and her national presence. Though she was pitted against heavyweight Rahul Gandhi, she managed to eat into his vote share, and thereby reducing the margin. She polled 2,83,023 votes, against Rahul Gandhi’s 6,47,445. NDA’s K Surendran got 1,41,045 votes. Annie was able to reduce the winning margin by 67,348 votes.

However, Anil Antony, another surprise candidate transplanted by the BJP, came with a bang but went out with a whimper. He failed to make an impact even after drumming up all the hype and hoopla. He had been very confident and was banking on the Christian votes which he had tried to pull over by being the link between the BJP and the church. He polled 2,34,098 votes and finished a distant third, behind Anto Antony of the Congress (3,67,210) and CPM’s T M Thomas Isaac (3,01,146). Compared to 2019, BJP’s votes went down by 63,298 this election.

Hits & flops

Who made it?

In Vadakara, Congress candidate Shafi Parambil triumphed over CPM stalwart, former health minister, K K Shailaja securing 5,50,930

votes ( win margin 1,14,753)

Who didn’t win but made an impact?

BJP candidate Sobha Surendran (Alappuzha), who amassed 2,95,841 votes, 1,08,112 higher than what the saffron party gained in 2019

CPI’s Annie Raja in Wayanad garnered 2,83,023 votes, bringing down Rahul Gandhi’s winning margin by 67,348 votes compared to 2019

Flipside

Though hopes were sky-high for big names, including INC’s K Muraleedharan (Thrissur) and BJP’s Anil Antony (Pathanamthitta), their disappointing vote counts fell short of expectations. Muraleedharan could only bag 3,28,124 votes as compared to T N Prathapan’s (Thrissur) 4,15,089 in 2019, while

Anil secured 2,34,098 against K Surendran’s (Pathanamthitta) 2,97,396 in 2019.

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