Emphatic win for UDF
in Neyyattinkara by-poll

TRIVANDRUM — Kerala’s ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front nominee R Selvaraj on Friday registered an emphatic victory in the Neyyattinkara by-election giving much relief to the Oommen Chandy government, walking the tightrope with a wafer thin majority.

By T K Devasia

Published: Sun 17 Jun 2012, 12:23 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 11:44 AM

Selvaraj who joined the Congress by quitting the Communist Party of India (Marxist) pushed up the UDF’s majority in the 140-member Assembly to 73 by wresting the seat by a margin of 6,334 votes in the fiercely three-cornered contest. He had won the seat for the CPI (M) in the 2011 poll by 6702 votes.

Selvaraj secured 52,528 of the 131332 valid votes polled in the election held on June 2 against 46194 votes secured by F Lawrence of the CPI (M). This marks an increase of 4,519 votes compared to the 2011 election. The CPIM) which polled 50711 votes in the 2011 suffered an erosion of 8517 votes.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) put up an impressive show by increasing its votes by five fold. Party candidate O Rajagopal created a record by increasing the party votes from 6,730 in 2011 to 30,507. Poll analysts as well as political parties are unanimous in their assessment that the poll outcome in Neyyattinkara was greatly influenced by the murder of Marxist rebel leader T P Chandrashekharan at Onchiyam on May 4 and the subsequent political developments.

Many believe that a substantial chunk of the additional votes that the BJP received may have come from the CPI (M). They feel that many committed party voters may have voted for the BJP because of their disenchantment with the CPI (M) over the political killings.

The campaign had begun with both the Left Democratic Front and the BJP mounting a massive offensive against the UDF over the fifth minister row, horse trading, price rise and other anti-people policies of the government.

However, the brutal murder and the subsequent revelations made by CPI (M) Idukki district secretary M M Mani about the political murders orchestrated by the party changed the course of the campaign with the UDF turning the tables on the LDF and the latter going in a defensive mode.

The Congress candidate said his victory was an endorsement of the charge he levelled against the CPI (M). Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala termed the victory a verdict against the politics of murder being practiced by the CPI (M).

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy viewed the victory as recognition of the good works done by his government in the last one year. He said that the win will strengthen the government and increase its responsibility to the people.

Leader of opposition V S Achuthanandan blamed provocative speech made by Mani about the political murder on the eve of the poll for the defeat of the party candidate. He said that the UDF had also succeeded in using Chandrashekharan’s murder as a weapon against the LDF.

The defeat is likely to widen the chasm between the two factions in the CPI (M) led by Achuthanandan and party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. Followers of Vijayan have called for a discussion on the anti-party line Achuthanandan adopted on the Chandrashekharan’s murder and his visit of his widow Rema on the polling day.

These may figure in the CPI (M) state committee convened here next week at the behest of the party’s central leadership to discuss the issues arising out of the political murder.

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