Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress on Friday won the Neyattinkara by-election in Kerala, with the Congress’ R Selvaraj, who was trailing third as counting began stealing a march over his Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rivals.
Selvaraj, a former CPI-M legislator who had resigned from the party to join the Congress, beat his nearest CPI-M candidate F Lawerence by 6,3344444 votes.
After raising hopes of a better and improved performance, the BJP candidate and former union minister O Rajagopal trailed in the third position.
According to the figures from the Election Commission, Selvaraj got 52,528 votes, Lawerence came second with 46,194 votes and Rajagopal was third with 30,507 votes.
“This was expected because we knew the pulse of the people towards our government. The CPI-M’s wrong doings have been taken seriously by the people and have inflicted the defeat of their candidate,” said state Congress president Ramesh Chennithala.
This election was necessitated after Selvaraj, the sitting CPI-M legislator, quit citing differences of opinion with his party bosses and joined the Congress.
Selvaraj had earlier said that it would be better to commit suicide than join ranks with the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), but he got the Congress membership and later the ticket to contest the Neyattinkara constituency.
“This victory goes for the excellent performance of the Oommen Chandy government and people have given thumps up for it. People have given a fitting reply to the ‘murder politics’ of the CPI-M. If I had not become a member of the Congress party, I would have been eliminated by the CPI-M, similar to what happened to TP Chandrasekheran who was murdered 4 May,” said Selvaraj.
With this, the Chandy government’s tally has gone up to 73 seats, while the LDF (Left Democratic Front) tally went down by one to 67 as compared to 72 for UDF and 68 to LDF in the April 2011 assembly polls.
“Chandy’s performance has been rewarded by the electorate,” remarked Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha member Sashi Tharoor.
A beaming Chandy was greeted by a huge crowd of party workers at the state Congress headquarters here.
“This victory is a gift for us by the people for our one year in office. We won the Piravom by-election with an enhanced majority in March and here in Neyattinkara we have won it after loosing the last two assembly elections in this constituency. It’s sad that the CPI-M is not seeing the writing on the wall. Another reason for our victory is the real unity in our ranks,” said Chandy.
Putting up a brave face, former finance minister and senior CPI-M legislator Thomas Issac said that things turned to favour the UDF after the Onchiyam issue (murder of Chandrasekheran).
“Our party is yet to take stock of the Onchiyam issue and the visit of opposition leader VS Achuthanandan to Chandrasekheran’s home. The UDF also used the speech made by our party leader MM Mani from Idukki. But nevertheless, this result is a pointer for us,” said Issac.