Chengannur: Kerala’s ruling CPI(M)-led LDF’s Saji Cheriyan won the Chengannur Assembly bypoll by a huge margin of 20,956 votes over his nearest Congress rival, officials said.
According to the Chief Electoral Office, Cheriyan polled 67,303 votes while the Congress-led UDF candidate D Vijaykumar got 46,347 votes and BJP’s P S Sreedharan Pillai came third with 35,270 votes.
Saji Cheriyan, CPI(M)’s Alappuzha district secretary, had maintained a steady lead from the beginning and emerged victorious in a hard-fought triangular contest between the three fronts– LDF, UDF, and NDA.
The victory margin of Cheriyan this time was more impressive than in 2016 when the LDF had won by a margin of only 7,983 votes.
It was in 1987, that the LDF candidate had got 15,703 votes.
A total of 76.25 percent of the 1,99,340 electorate had exercised their franchise in the constituency in the by-poll held on May 28.
The by-election was necessitated following the death of sitting MLA K K Ramachandran Nair (CPI-M) in January this year due to illness.
Reacting to the LDF victory, Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said it was a “massive show of solidarity” by the people towards the policies and programmes of the LDF government.
It was also a victory of truth over “false campaigns” against the government, Vijayan told reporters.
The poll outcome showed that the people of the state fully endorsed the “democratic, secular values and development policies,” he added.
CPI-M state secretary, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, also said the defeat of the Congress candidate was a rejection of the “soft Hindutva policy” adopted by the Congress in the constituency as it had done in Karnataka.
Senior Congress leader, A K Antony, said the party will examine the reasons for the defeat and take corrective steps.
The main reason for the drubbing, he said was due to the “naked communal card played by the marxist party in the constituency.”
Antony also pointed the dip in the BJP’s vote share and said UDF votes had only increased and not fallen.
Thanking the electorate for the by-poll outcome, a beaming Cheriyan said, “his victory is a people’s endorsement of the LDF government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and its achievements during two years.”
The by-poll victory for the LDF is a huge relief for the front as it comes following outrage and criticism faced by the government over alleged police lapse in the recent ‘honour killing’ of a Dalit Christian youth in Kottayam district and death of a man in police custody at Varapuzha.
It is a sweet comeback for Cheriyan, an active political figure in the constituency, who started off as a student leader, after his defeat in the same constituency in 2006 against P C Vishunath of the Congress.