Thiruvananthapuram: In a shot in the arm for the Congress-led UDF government in Kerala ahead of Assembly polls next year, KS Sabarinadhan on Tuesday won the Aruvikkara bypoll with a margin of 10,128 votes defeating his nearest rival M Vijayakumar of the LDF spearheaded by CPI-M.
A beaming Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the victory was a clear pointer to UDF coming to power in the next elections, creating history in a state which elects
governments alternating between UDF and LDF.
Attacking the CPI(M), Chandy said the party had insulted the electorate by alleging that the UDF had earned the victory by splurging money earned through corrupt deals and liquor.
Earlier, a sombre opposition leader, VS Achuthanandan, alleged that UDF victory was due to appeasement of minority, which the BJP had taken advantage of. UDF had made several crores of rupees through corrupt deals, he alleged and it was spent at Aruvikkara.
Sabarinadhan polled 56,448 votes, while Vijayakumar, a former speaker and ex-state minister could get only 46,320 votes and BJP candidate and former Union Minister O Rajagopal 34,145 votes in the fierce triangular contest.
The 33-year-old Congress candidate had maintained the lead throughout during the counting, while CPI-M and BJP were neck and neck vying for the second spot.
Sabarinadhan, son of former speaker G Karthikeyan, whose death in February last year necessitated the bypoll, is an engineering graduate and MBA degree holder. He joined politics after quitting the post of a senior executive with a multinational company.
The poll result is considered to be a litmus test for both the rival fronts and BJP as civic elections are due this year end and assembly polls next year.
The outcome is a big relief for the four-year-old UDF government as the opposition had used every opportunity to corner the government on the solar and bar bribery scams.
The left front had also tried to prevent Finance Minister, KM Mani, facing bar bribery charges, from presenting the state budget on 13 March leading to unprecedented violence and mayhem in the House.
Reacting to the victory, Kerala PCC President, VM Sudheeran, said the poll outcome would strengthen the UDF and the government and that the voters had rejected opposition's 'false' allegations.
G Karthikeyan had represented the segment during the last five times in the Assembly.
For UDF government, that came to power with a wafer thin majority of two MLAs in 2011 riding on the slogan of 'development and care, the result is widely considered as a referendum on the performance of the government.
With this result, the constituency, which has women outnumbering men, seems to have also given the thumbs up to government's decision to close down over 700 liquor bars in the state as part of the new liquor policy.
According to political observers, the outcome is a serious setback to LDF which had slammed the Chandy government on corruption allegations.
This is also a third drubbing to the left front in the bypolls since 2012, after UDF came to power a year ago. In the earlier two bypolls held at Pirvaom and Neyatinkkara, UDF candidates had emerged victorious.
The result is also seen as a huge blow to former CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, in-charge of the campaign at Aruvikkara, as he is tipped to be Chief Ministerial candidate, if LDF comes to power after assembly polls to be held next year.
92-year-old Achuthanandan, who was the star campaigner for the LDF and drew large crowds, also could not make much inroads into the UDF vote bank.
The result is also an embarrassment for CPI-M, which had put up its own candidate in the constituency after nearly two decades. Earlier, its former front partner, RSP, had contested
The increasing vote bank of BJP, is giving heartburn to the CPI-M as the vote erosion is mainly from its kitty, the observers said.
As far as the BJP is concerned, even though the lotus failed to bloom, Rajagopal, had managed to increase the party's voting percentage significantly giving a tough fight to CPI(M).
The result is also considered very crucial for Congress and especially for Chandy. A defeat for Congress would have strengthened the move by a section in the party for a leadership change as part of 'image built up of the government'.
Another political significant factor is that the bypoll was held in the wake of changes in partners of UDF and LDF. SP had joined forces with UDF in the Lok Sabha polls while KC-B member Ganesh Kumar had left the ruling front.
The poll results also dealt a big slap to former government Chief Whip and dissident Kerala Congress (M) MLA P C George, who was instrumental in putting up an Anti-Corruption Front candidate, much to the discomfort of his party and UDF.
With this win, UDF will have 74 members, and LDF 65 in the 140 member assembly in which Ganesh Kumar, lone MLA of Kerala Congress (B) keeping both the fronts at bay.
Updated Date: Jun 30, 2015 14:39 PM