KOCHI: Dashing the ruling LDF front’s hopes to score a ‘century’ in the Kerala assembly, UDF candidate Uma Thomas registered a thumping win in the high-pitched Thrikkakara by-election by a record margin.
After the end of the counting, Congress candidate Uma defeated her nearest rival Dr. Jo Joseph of CPM by a margin of 25,016 votes, the highest in the constitution since its formation in 2011. The margin is also higher than what her late husband PT Thomas received in the 2021 elections at 14,329 votes. While UDF’s Uma polled a total of 72,770 votes, LDF’s Jo Joseph garnered 47,754 votes. BJP’s AN Radhakrishnan received only 12,957, which is lower than the votes the party received in 2021 elections.
Reflecting a wave-like trend, Uma who started with a lead of 2,163 votes after the end of the first round, extended her lead in every round and it crossed 10,000-mark at the end of counting in the fifth round to touch 11,413, and to 16,253 votes in the sixth round before the lead hitting the 24,300 votes in the last round. In none of the rounds, LDF could not reduce Uma’s lead.
“This is a recognition for all the hard work done by our workers. This is just the beginning of the party. We have to build from here on,” said opposition leader VD Satheesan, who took charge after the Congress drubbing in the 2021 assembly elections.
Muslim League leader PK Kunhalikutty, MLA, said the people have given their verdict on the LDF government’s performance through the by-election. “It’s CPM and its leaders who said the election will be a performance analysis of their government. By that count, we have to say that the performance of the LDF government is really bad,” he said.
The result of this otherwise inconsequential byelection is a big setback for the ruling LDF as the election was taken up as a prestigious fight by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the CPM. The ruling front lined up all the cabinet ministers, coalition leaders, and the party bigwigs including party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan who camped in the constitution for the election campaign for several days.
Ernakulam DCC secretary CN Mohanan denied that CM Pinarayi Vijayan led the campaign and that the result was not a reflection of the government’s performance. “The CM campaigned following our request. And, the verdict is not a reflection of the government’s performance. Yes, the result is really unexpected and even unbelievable, especially the huge lead given our work in the constitution,” Mohanan said.
The Thrikkakara by-poll result is a boost for opposition leader Satheesan and KPCC president K Sudhakaran, both of whom took charge after replacing the incumbents Ramesh Chennithala and Mullapally Ramachandran respectively following LDF’s return to power in 2021 assembly elections.
With Congress candidate retaining its bastion of Thrikkakara, UDF retained its strength of 48 in the 147-member Kerala assembly. The LDF, which has 99 seats in the state assembly, was aiming to make its tally 100 after the win in Thrikkakara.
Several controversial issues including the ambitious Silverline rail project and hate speech by the Popular Front of India and PC George being discussed were widely discussed in the by-poll. The by-election was necessary following the resignation of Thomas in December last year.