It’s advantage LDF, bitter pill for UDF in Assembly bypolls

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan
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Despite winning three seats, many ominous portents for the Opposition front

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan

The Left Democratic Front has succeeded in establishing its dominance in byelections held in five Assembly constituencies in the State. Apart from wresting Vattiyurkavu and Konni from the United Democratic Front, it gave a run for the money to the Congress in Ernakulam.

For the Congress-led United Democratic Front, the election results do not give it any comfort, despite winning three of the five seats. Congress candidate Shanimol Usman’s victory in Aroor was with a slender margin, while in Ernakulam, T.J. Vinod had to concede some ground to CPI(M) Independent Manu Roy, winning it with by a margin of 3750, that too in a constituency which has been returning Congress candidates with plump margins.

The significance of LDF’s win in Vattiyurkavu and Konni is that these were considered UDF bastions, having returned Congress candidates for successive terms, Konni had been returning Adoor Prakash for five terms, while Vattiyurkavu had elected K. Muraleedharan for two consecutive terms.

LDF strategy pays off

In both these constituencies, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) decision to field youngsters appears to have paid off. V.K. Prasanth’s profile as Mayor of Thiruvananthapuram did give him a lot of advantage too.

The victory is sweet for the LDF because Vattiyurkavu and Konni were the epicentre of the Sabarimala agitation last year. It is also a personal victory for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who refused to budge from his stance on the Sabarimala issue, even though there were speculations that his party had a change of heart.

Slide in BJP fortunes

It is significant that the Bharatiya Janata Party, which had emerged runner-up in Vattiyurkavu in the last poll, fell behind to third place here. Its candidate K. Surendran could not make a dent in Konni, which was top in the chart for the party.

The Chief Minister can claim that the verdict is not against the government and gives him and the LDF freedom to move ahead with policy prescriptions.

The poll outcome is also a setback for social organisations such as the Nair Service Society and the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam.

The Nair Service Society had to take a knock for its electoral stance explicitly favouring the UDF. Its ‘correct distance’ as against its traditional equidistance from coalition politics triggered of a polarisation of sorts. The CPI(M) went all out against the NSS leadership to facilitate this.

In Aroor also, the SNDP’s stand supporting the LDF did not help the CPI(M) candidate. The Bharath Dharma Jana Sena, with its umbilical cord to the SNDP, had stayed away from a contest in Aroor, giving an impression that the CPI(M) would be a beneficiary.

For Congress

For the Congress, the byelections also exposed its organisational shortcomings caught as it is in the warp of its factional functioning styles.

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