Kerala Assembly By-elections 2019: Congress wins three, left wins two, BJP winless
The Congress led opposition, United Democratic Front (UDF), retained three of the four assembly seats it had held previously among the five that voted in the October 21 by-polls in Kerala. The ruling CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front won the remaining two, leaving the BJP winless in Kerala, again.
Left candidate V K Prashanth, who is also Thiruvananthapuram Mayor, won the Vattiurkavu seat by over 14,000 votes and the Konni seat in Pathanamthitta district-- home of hill temple Sabarimala--was won by K U Janeesh Kumar by more than 9,000 votes against his nearest Congress rival K Mohanraj. CPM’s win in Konnai came after 23 years. BJP candidate K Surendran came third.
Congress in-turn wrestled Aroor (Alappuzha) seat from the CPM by a slender margin of 1900 votes and in Ernakulam, Congress candidate T J Vinod won by a thin margin of 3750 votes.
The by-elections won’t impact the stability of Pinarayi Vijayan government which has 91 out of the 140 seats in the Kerala Assembly but serves as a reality check for political parties ahead of the assembly elections next year.
A political observer said the results were a warning shot for the Congress-led dispensation. “The Congress can’t bask in Lok Sabha poll glory. It has to put its house in order before the assembly elections,” said political commentator Sunnykutty Abraham, adding, infighting led to defeat in two seats for the Congress.
Congress leaders said the backing by the Nair Service Society (NSS)-- a body of upper caste Nairs—did it more harm than good. “It seems NSS’ stand boomeranged. There was a consolidation of other communities against this,” said Congress candidate K Mohan Kumar, who lost badly in Vattiurkavu.
The CPI(M) said NSS tried to play caste politics openly and it didn’t work. “Voters have shown community leaders their place. The politically vibrant state has stood up and dumped religious and caste outfits,” said CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. He added the party will examine its candidate’s defeat in Aroor.
The BJP this time finished second only in Mancheswaram-- northern-most constituency bordering Karnataka—where its candidate Raveesha Tantri lost by over 7900 votes to Muslim League candidate M C Kamaruddin. In Vattiurkavu, the BJP candidate was pushed to the third spot.
“In Mancheswaram and Konni we retained our votes which we received in the last LS poll. But in Vattiurkavu, it was not on expected lines. We will examine it,” said senior BJP leader Radhakrishna Menon.