Vol. XLIII No. 11 March 17, 2019
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Kerala: People Back the Left as LDF Wins Big in Local By-polls

NS Sajith

THE Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala, continues its winning streak by registering an emphatic victory in the local body by-elections, amidst the high-decibel anti-government campaign unleashed by the Sangh Parivar outfits over the Sabarimala verdict.

The elections were held for 39 local bodies in all the 14 districts in the state and the LDF has won 21 seats as it wrested five from UDF and one from BJP. The United Democratic Front (UDF) finished a distant second with just 11 seats.

On the other hand, the BJP and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) have managed to win two seats each in Alappuzha and Idukki respectively. Two independent candidates, and a Kerala Congress candidate who won over a UDF candidate, have also been emerged victorious in the elections.

The BJP’s hopes to cash in on the Sabarimala agitation were also dashed by the results of the by-elections to wards in Pandalam municipality. Pandalam in Pathanamthita district has been the epicenter of the agitation against women’s entry to the temple. Here the BJP candidates got a grand total of 19 votes, 12 and 7 in each ward.

In majority of the wards, the vote share of LDF has considerably increased despite the tacit understanding between the UDF and BJP. The margin of victory of the  LDF candidates have also increased significantly.

In a turn of events, as the Sabarimala issue was being used as a political tool, the Congress had openly supported and justified BJP's violent protests in the pretext of Namajapam and the ‘Save Sabarimala’ campaign. Many Congress leaders addressed the BJP meetings all across the state.

In many seats, the UDF-BJP alliance campaigned publicly and the SDPI also lent a helping hand to this unholy alliance wherein the BJP and SDPI did not field their candidates in order to help the UDF.

Raman Nair, senior Congress leader and former Travancore Devaswom Board chairman, had joined the BJP and Vijayan Thomas, former Chairman of Congress who owned Jaihind TV has started consultations with BJP central leadership. Recently, KPCC executive member PM Niyas addressed a meeting organised by BJP in Kozhikode

In a backdrop of growing anti-government campaign, the people of Thrissur district have chosen LDF candidates to represent all the five wards there. While the LDF retained four seats, it has won one from the BJP. In a similar fashion, in Ernakulam district, the LDF won all the five seats of which three were from UDF and two were retained.

A tight contest was seen in the 49th ward of Tripunithura Municipality where the election was necessitated due to the death of Congress councilor. The Congress finished third and the BJP state leaders were determined to see that no CPI(M) candidate wins there. LDF candidate KJ Joshi, however, defeated his nearest BJP rival by a margin of 450 votes. In Kannur district, the LDF and UDF won their sitting seats and in Kasaragod, the LDF retained both the seats.

At a juncture where the Congress and BJP were hand-in-glove in the organising violent agitation over the Supreme Court verdict on entry of women into the Sabarimala temple, the victory of LDF stands as a testimony of the people’s support to the Left Front and an erudition of their disapproval to the stand taken by the Congress and BJP in Kerala.