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Tight contest in Kerala by-poll

Tight contest in Kerala by-poll

Clean image of candidate a big advantage for CPM

By T K Devasia

Published: Fri 26 Jun 2015, 9:46 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:59 PM

Trivandrum — With just two days left to go for the polling for the by-election to the Kerala state assembly, the voters at Aruvikkara in Trivandrum district have not given any definite clue to their electoral preference.

A Times of India-Ipsos survey shows the dilemma of the electorate. While they prefer Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate M Vijayakumar in terms of quality of the candidates, their party-wise preference goes to the Congreess.

The survey conducted on June 21 and 22 across 14 polling stations in the constituency gives Congress a 1 per cent edge even while the CPI (M) candidate led in quality of candidates by 14 per cent. The survey predicts Congress 40 per cent of the total votes as opposed to 39 per cent for the CPI (M).

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which fielded veteran O Rajagopal with the aim of ending its electoral drought in Kerala, stood a distant third with 20 per cent vote share. In terms of quality of candidates, 44 per cent of the respondents opted for Vijayakumar.

Congress candidate K Sabarinathan, son of former Speaker G Karthikeyan, whose death necessitated the poll, trails way behind with 30 per cent. The rating of his father is 42 per cent.

Though the BJP, which has not won any seat in the Assembly so far, claims that they will create history in this by-election, poll analysts feel the party may only tilt the balance in favour of either of the traditional rivals.
However, they are not ready to say who will be affected by the strong presence of the BJP in the fray.

If the trend in the last Lok Sabha election is any indication, the party is likely to eat into the opposition votes.

Rajagopal had pushed opposition Left Democratic Front candidate to third position in the Lok Sabha election, leading to the victory of Congress candidate Shashi Tharoor.

However, the Congress camp fears that the entry of Kerala Congress (M) leader P C George’s Anti-Corruption Democratic Front candidate into the fray may offset the advantage.

The front’s candidate K Das, who belongs to the Nadar community, may make cracks in the Nadar votes that traditionally went to the Congress.

The Congress also expects trouble from the People’s Democratic Party candidate Poonthura Siraj, who wields influence in certain Muslim pockets in the constituency. The poll arithmatics at Aruvikkara is evenly poised and it is difficult to predict who will win the election.

While the UDF camp may say the outcome will be a referendum on their four-year-old government, the opposition might call it a victory against the corruption that marked the UDF rule. Both the sides have driven their message powerfully through a high-voltage campaign spearheaded by senior leaders and supported by a host of film stars.

Though the outcome will not affect the government, it is expected to provide a pointer to which way the political winds will blow when the state goes to the local bodies’ polls in October this year and the Assembly polls in May 2016.


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