CPM's firebrand young leader M Swaraj, known for his oratory skills, will not see the assembly this time despite the Left Democratic Front's sweeping win in Kerala.
Swaraj lost his sitting seat Thripunithura to Congress's former minister K Babu by a narrow margin of 1,009 votes. Swaraj had wrested the seat from Babu in 2016 as the latter had been suffering from an image crisis following the bar bribery allegations.
Babu, the excise minister in the Oommen Chandy-led UDF government, lost Thripunithura, the seat he had won five times consecutively, to Swaraj as the state witnessed an anti-incumbency wave that swept way the Congress-led government in 2016. Now, after five years, Kerala voted again in favour of the LDF in a visible pro-incumbency wave and it should worry why Swaraj could not make it to the winners' list despite the favourable political situations.
Ever since his nomination, Babu has been confident that he would win. His major reasoning was that the BJP would not poll as many votes as it did in 2016. Going by the results, his calculation seems to have come true. BJP's Thuravoor Viswambharan had polled 29,843 votes in 2016. This time, BJP's K S Radhakrishnan could garner only 23,756 votes. It would be possible that what BJP's loss could have been Babu's gain.
Babu and Swaraj are also politicians who are polar opposite. Babu keeps a good rapport with the electorate and attends all possible family functions in his constituency. On the other hand, Swaraj was accused of being inaccessible.
Babu also played up the Sabarimala issue by raking up a speech Swaraj had made during the controversy. It remains to see if it had any real impact on the electorate's choice. Reacting on the results, Babu said his victory was a blessing of Lord Ayyappa.
More importantly, the bar bribery case against Babu seems to have died down. With the Kerala Congress (M) joining the LDF camp, the CPM was also not in a position to rake up the allegations against Babu because the KC(M)'s late founder K M Mani had also faced similar charges.