MB Rajesh gave the Left Democratic Front voters in Thrithala some more reasons to cheer about by registering a 3,173-vote victory over bitter rival VT Balram on Sunday.
Congress leader Balram had captured the LDF bastion in 2011 and he inflicted another humiliating defeat on the Left front in 2016.
He was aiming for a hat-trick this time, but CPM, sensing danger of losing the seat permanently, deputed another young leader to stop Balram's juggernaut.
A thrilling campaign ensued in Thrithala with rival camps trying their best to woo the voters.
Suspense prevailed on the counting day on Sunday too with the leads oscillating between the LDF and UDF.
Postal ballots gave Rajesh an early lead, but Balram came back when the votes from the electronic voting machines began to process.
Balram steadily improved his lead to over 3,000 votes when the counting reached half-way mark. But Rajesh rallied well and stole the lead from the CPM strongholds of Nagalassery and Thirumittakkode gram panchayats.
Balram conceded defeat even before the result was announced officially. "I accept the verdict of the people in Thrithala. All the best to the new government in Kerala," he wrote on Facebook.
A few hours later, eventual winner MB Rajesh took to Facebook to thank the voters. "I will fulfil duties entrusted on me. I will definitely keep my promises. Thank you all."
Dwindling UDF votes
Thrithala is in Pattamby Taluk of Palakkad district. Since 1991, the constituency has elected CPM leaders four times (1991, 1996, 2001, 2006). In 2011, Balram scored an upset win over senior CPM leader P Mammikkutty by 3,197 votes. Balram retained the seat in 2016 with a higher margin of 10,547 votes.
But the 2019 Lok Sabha election gave enough hints about the dwindling UDF votes.
Thrithala is part of Ponnani Lok Sabha constituency. Though UDF won the parliament seat, it could muster a lead of 8,404 votes from Thrithala Assembly segment. This meant that UDF lost 2,143 votes in three years after Balram’s 2016 victory. In the local body polls in December 2020 too, LDF collected 6,822 more votes than the UDF.
Balram’s Facebook post on AKG
LDF has been waging a war against Balram over a controversial Facebook post in which he stated that AKG was a paedophile who fell in love with his second wife Susheela Gopalan when she was just 13 years old.
CPM protested against the comments both on social media and off it. The party has been boycotting Balram since then and this has affected the launch of many public utility projects in Thrithala constituency.