All eyes are now on the sealed votes kept at the strong room of Ernakulam Maharajas College. The bypoll verdict in the Thrikkakara Assembly constituency to be out on Friday is going to be crucial for the LDF, UDF and the BJP-led NDA.
The slight dip in poll percentage in Thrikkakara this time was quite unexpected for all the fronts, especially as the entire State leadership of all the political parties stayed put in the constituency for a month and unleashed a vigorous campaign. Only 68.77 per cent of votes were cast.
Both the LDF and the UDF camps are optimistic about victory. The UDF hopes that the front can retain the constituency at any cost with a margin of over 10,000 votes. The CPM leadership expects that the party would scrape through this time in a seat which has always voted for the UDF.
Some of the leaders belonging to both the fronts are of the view that whoever is the winner, there won't be a big lead this time.
WHAT CAUSED LOWER TURNOUT?
In the fiercely-fought electoral battle, the fronts were expecting that the polling percentage would cross 75. The retreat of Twenty20 from the electoral scene is said to be cited as a major reason for lower turnout at the hustings.
The lapses in the voters' list are said to be another reason. The retention of the names of the dead people and those who are out of station in the voters' list may have also contributed to such a scenario.
Some assess that the actual votes excluding all the bogus votes would come around 1.85 lakh votes and hhence the polling figure of 1.,35 lakh votes is an impressive figure.
It is to be remembered that only 48 per cent of voters exercised their franchise at the bypolls held in the Kochi corporation ward amidst the Thrikkakara electioneering. In the bypoll held in the Ernakulam Assembly constituency three years ago, only 57.89 percent of voters cast their votes as many parts of the Kochi city got inundated on the polling day.
CPM HOPES SOAR
The polling percentage in the UDF-dominated constituency is not matching its expectations and this has given hope for the CPM camp.
On the polling day, select CPM workers were given separate lists to ensure the polling of the front's sure votes in each area.
Each such worker would be made answerable if anyone in the list did not cast their votes. According to the CPM, the party ensured the casting of strong LDF votes in such a manner.
But the Congress did not share the view that a substantial chunk of UDF votes was not polled. The party's allegation is that the names of many Congress sympathisers were removed from the voters' list. They further allege that apart from the CPM indulging in impersonation to cast many votess, the names given by the Congress for the enrollment as new voters were not accepted by the officials.
But Congress leaders felt the CPM managed to block some of its votes from being polled misusing the State machinery, and it might lead to a reduction of its winning margin. But they say that it would not affect the UDF candidate's victory prospects.
REACHING THE MAGIC FIGURE
Both the fronts expect the BJP and the Independents together might pocket around 20,000 votes of the 1.35 lakh votes polled . Of the remaining 1.15 lakh votes, either of the two major fronts needs 60,000 votes to emerge victorious.
The UDF, which got more than 60,000 votes in the past elections except during last time, expects that around 65,000 votes have fallen in its kitty.
The moot question is whether the LDF, which never managed to get 50,000 votes in the constituency, will be able to garner 60,000 votes this time. The CPM's post-poll calculations made at the local level are optimistic the party may achieve this.
Though the CPM's calculations made on the basis of the solid LDF votes reportedly gave an upper hand to the UDF, the party is still hopeful of the victory of its candidate on the presumption that all the UDF votes had not been polled in this byelection.
The CPM had entrusted an independent agency to assess the party's chances. Its prediction the party may manage to garner 57,000 to 60,000 votes has kindled hopes in the LDF camp.
IMPACT OF FINAL VERDICT
It will be an electoral rebirth for the UDF after its humiliating defeat in the last Assembly polls if Uma Thomas manages to get a better lead than the margin of 14,329 votes scored by her husband P T Thomas in the last polls.
If her victory margin plummets below 10,000 votes, the UDF can take solace that it just won the polls. But such a victory will not have any impact as it is in no way going to impact the upper hand enjoyed by the LDF in Kerala politics.
If the LDF manages to win even with a slender margin, the UDF will then have no excuses to offer. In the event of a victory by the LDF in a constituency like Thrikkakara, where the UDF has never lost, and that too in the Ernakulam which is considered a Congress bastion, it will be interpreted that the UDF is no longer a viable front capable of fighting the mighty LDF. This will have its repercussions on the UDF constituents, who are already a disillusioned lot.
Last time, the BJP candidate garnered 15,483 votes in Thrikkakara. A better vote share for the party candidate this time is crucial for BJP State president K Surendran to ensure his continuance in the coveted post.