The results of the Kerala Legislative Assembly election out on Sunday show many fancied candidates bit the dust, whereas several unassuming ones trumped the more famous political opponents. A few constituencies drew attention state-wide due to varied reasons including political significance and the candidate profile.
Here's a quick look at the outcome of the electoral battles that excited people from all across Kerala.
The victory in Nemom is a double victory for V Sivankutty of the CPM. Not only did he close BJP’s account in the State Legislative Assembly, but he also relegated K Muraleedharan, MP, who the Congress party had introduced as the giant killer with much fanfare, to the third place.
The BJP candidate in Nemom, Kummanam Rajasekharan, had exuded confidence, even terming the constituency “BJP’s Gujarat” in Kerala. The former Mizoram governor’s confidence stemmed from the 45,606 votes BJP had won in the 2020 local body polls.
The political equations in the segment had undergone a change with the United Democratic Front fielding Muraleedharan. The majority of Congress votes that had gone to the BJP earlier returned to the UDF kitty. But, contrary to the Congress’s calculations, the Left Democratic Front won a significant number of minority votes.
Rajasekharan failed in matching O Rajagopal, the lone BJP member in the 14th Assembly, at the hustings. Rajagopal had won more votes than the present candidate. Muraleedharan, meanwhile, succeeded in increasing the Congress’s votes by almost three-fold.
K U Jenish Kumar of the CPM repeated his win and proved his victory in the 2019 bypoll was not a fluke. BJP State President K Surendran could not match Kumar at any point and ended up third. Though BJP experienced a leak in its vote bank, a corresponding increase was not visible in Kumar’s victory margin. UDF’s Robin Peter was placed second in the race.
Jose K Mani was determined and confident of winning back Pala, which Kerala Congress (M) had lost after the death of his father K M Mani. The popular sentiment that he was trying to usurp the seat from sitting MLA Mani C Kappan did not augur well for him. Additionally, his move to contest to the Assembly after giving up the Rajya Sabha seat also backfired.
The dispute with the CPI over seat-sharing, and a clash between KC(M) and CPM members in the Pala Municipal Council, also fueled his defeat. Kappan, who had won the by-election by a margin of 2,943 votes, increased it to 15,378 votes this time.
Sebastian Kulathingal of the Kerala Congress (M) pulled off a coup to topple an over-confident P C George in Poonjar. George’s controversial statements and references made before the polls boomeranged on him. Tomy Kallani of the Congress came third in the constituency. In 2016 George had won with a 27,821 margin.
Former president of the Mahila Congress Lathika Subhash, who ran as an independent, helped LDF’s V N Vasavan win by a margin of 14,303, up from his CPM comrade Suresh Kurup’s 8,899 in 2016. Lathika, who had tonsured her head protesting against the Congress’s denial of a seat to her, won just 5,877 votes.
Former minister K Babu of the Congress pipped sitting MLA M Swaraj by a slender margin of 992. The victory, however, is sweeter for Babu, who had lost to Swaraj in 2016. The contest was between Babu and Dr K S Radhakrishnan of the BJP when the urban votes were counted. Babu’s lead increased when the votes from Idakochi were taken up, but Swaraj clawed up to second place. The young CPM leader’s hopes were dashed when he lost votes in the Tripunithura town area.
The BJP’s votes showed a marked decrease to 23,578 from the close to 30,000 it had won in 2016.
The CPM fielded MB Rajesh to wrest the constituency from the young Congress leader, V T Balram, who was eyeing a hat-trick win. Rajesh successfully made inroads into the minority areas, where Congress had considerable influence, and defeated Balram.
Palakkad maintained suspense throughout the counting of votes on Sunday. In the nail-biting finish, Shafi Parambil of the Congress posted a hat-trick by defeating BJP’s trump card E Sreedharan. Shafi, who was trailing in urban Palakkad, made up for the loss in the rural areas of the constituency. The Congress candidate might have got the votes of CPM, which finished third.
P V Anwar overcame complaints raised over his absence in the constituency and opposition-levelled allegations of illegal land grab to register his second win in Nilambur. However, his victory margin slid to 2,700 votes from the 11,504 more votes he had won in 2016. Congress’s V V Prakash, who died of a cardiac arrest three days before counting, came second. If Prakash had won, it would have necessitated a bypoll in Nilambur.
CPI’s move to capitalize on the discord within the Indian Union Muslim League over the candidature of that party’s State general secretary failed. The CPI had even replaced its candidate, Ajith Koladi with Niyas Pulikkalakath, after launching the campaign to capitalize on the issues in Muslim League, but the move did not yield the desired result.
LDF candidate P Nandakumar’s victory in Ponnani was not at all affected by the dispute over his candidature and the lower polling percentage. Nandakumar, who replaced Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan, increased the victory margin by about 2,000 votes. Sreeramakrishnan did not contest following the party’s two-term norm. The CPM local leadership had been opposed to Nandakumar since it wanted district committee member T M Siddique as the candidate.
The CPM in Kuttiadi had witnessed unprecedented protests when its cadre hit the streets against the party’s decision to hand over the seat to Kerala Congress (M). The protests were successful, and the CPM workers recaptured the seat it had lost to the UDF in 2016. If the UDF had won by a margin of 1,156 votes in 2016, the vote difference was 333 this time.
The constituency witnessed a fierce battle between two sitting MLAs, Karat Razak and M K Muneer, of the Muslim League. Muneer, who represented Kozhikode South in the Assembly, was assigned to Koduvally to recapture the seat from LDF. Muneer succeeded in winning the prestigious battle, but the League lost Kozhikode South to the LDF.
The Congress in Irikkur was in the news before kicking off the campaign. The party was divided over the candidature of Sajeev Joseph. After the factional issues were ironed out, the campaign gathered steam, and Joseph ended up increasing the party’s victory margin despite a Red wave in the State.
KM Shaji, who had won the constituency with slender margins of 493 and 2.287 in 2011 and 2016, respectively, suffered a major blow when K V Sumesh defeated him by a margin of more than 6,000 votes.
BJP State president K Surendran was defeated in Manjeshwaram, considered to be his ‘primary constituency,’ the other being Ranni. He lost to Muslim League’s E K M Ashraff by a margin of 745 votes. In 2016, he had lost by 89 votes.
Results almost mirror those of civic polls
The LDF win in the Assembly polls was almost a repetition of the 2020 local body elections held in December 2020. Then the LDF was ahead in 101 constituencies, and the UDF in 38 seats as per an analysis of the votes cast across in the civic polls by the Manorama Research Team.
The Assembly election was held four months later. As per Sunday's results, LDF lost two seats and the UDF gained three over the above estimates. Also, BJP lost Nemom, where it had an upper hand in the civic polls.
Patriarch in the Assembly
P J Joseph, aged 79, will be the oldest member of the 15th State Legislative Assembly. The Kerala Congress leader will the represent Thodupuzha constituency.
Baby in the House
CPM’s KM Sachindev, representing the Balussery constituency, will be the youngest member in the Assembly. He is aged 27.