5 Kerala assembly seats to go to by-polls on October 21
By-elections will be held in five assembly constituencies in Kerala on October 21, in what is being seen as the semi-final before the state elections due in 18 months.
Stakes are high for the three major political formations in the state—the ruling Left Democratic Front (LFD), opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance or NDA.
The by-elections are taking place in Vattiyoorkavu assembly constituency in Thiruvananthapuram, Konni in Pathanamthitta, Aroor in Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Manjeshwar in Kasaragod.
Four of these seats fell vacant after the legislators were elected to Parliament—K Muralidharan from Kozhikode, Adoor Prakash from Attingal, Hibi Eden from Ernakulam—all Congress and the CPI(M)’s lone MP from Alappuzha AM Arif. The death of Manjeshwar sitting MLA Abdul Razak, Muslim League leader, has also called for the by-election.
Another vacant seat Pala (Kottayam) is in the midst of elections on September 23.
In the Lok Sabha election earlier this year, the ruling CPI(M) had fielded six legislators and the Congress three. While the CPI(M)’s five leaders bit dust, all three Congress leaders won. It was the first time that nine legislators were fielded in the parliamentary elections in the state.
Since the CPI(M)-led LDF has a brute majority of 91 in the 140-member house, the by-poll outcome won’t affect the stability of the government. But it will give enough indications on the way the state will turn in the assembly elections in 2021, political observers said.
Suffered a humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, losing 19 out of 20, stakes are high for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. After the LS debacle, the opposition had sought his resignation but the party dismissed it saying it was a temporary setback.
“We are in a stronger position now. We are least bothered about the outcome. The state never witnessed such a transparent and honest administration,” said CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
But the Congress said it will be a repeat of the Lok Sabha elections.
“People are fed up with the present regime. It will be another shock for the CPI(M) which is finding difficult to survive in its last post,” said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.
And for the BJP which also drew a blank in the national polls, it is an opportunity to prove it is not a pushover in the state.
Interestingly, in the 2016 assembly election out of five, the BJP came second in two seats. Currently, the BJP has only MLA O Rajagopal in the assembly.
“In the last election, we lost two seats with a narrow margin. Besides these two, we will emerge victorious in all,” said the party’s state unit president PS Sreedharan Pillai.
Voting for the assembly seats in Haryana and Maharashtra and by-polls on 64 seats in 16 states and one Union territory will also be held on October 21, the Election Commission of India said on Saturday.
Counting of votes will be held on October 24.