LDF's Antony Raju turns tables on Sivakumar in Thiruvananthapuram, extracts revenge for 2016

Manorama News-VMR Kerala Exit Poll
VS Sivakumar, Krishnakumar, Antony Raju

The massive LDF wave that has swept over Kerala seems to have catapulted Antony Raju, considered the underdog in Thiruvananthapuram till the results were announced, to victory. Raju has trumped sitting MLA V S Sivakumar by over 7000 votes in what was billed a triangular fight.

Sitting MLA and Congress's V S Sivakumar, who was eyeing a hat-trick, was undone both by the LDF wave and also by the infighting in the Congress. It also did not help that the Latin Catholic Church, which is hugely influential in the coastal areas of the constituency, stood by Raju. This was interesting as in the nearby district of Kollam, the Latin Church had openly opposed the LDF.

BJP's actor-cum-politician Krishnakumar, whose crowded road shows generated visions of a BJP victory, came a distant third. For Antony Raju, who was lucky to be second last time, this was sweet revenge.

In 2016, the BJP vote share had witnessed a massive surge, from 10.76 percent in 2011 to 27.54 in 2016. Reason why the BJP had bracketed Thiruvananthapuram among its 'A plus' category seats in Kerala. It was Sreesanth's commendable performance as a BJP candidate that allowed Congress's V S Sivakumar to hold on to the seat for a second time.

His vote share had declined from 45.87 percent in 2011 to 36.82 percent, a nearly 10 percent drop. Still, if he had beaten LDF's Antony Raju by a margin of 10,905 votes, it was only because Sreesanth swallowed up a larger portion of Raju's votes. And the LDF vote share fell precipitously, from 40.87 percent to 28.18 percent.

This time, Sivakumar has faced internal bitterness. There were already charges that in 2016 he had conspired against Congress candidates in other constituencies for his gain. There were murmurs that party workers were waiting for revenge.

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