Chandy's Kerala stands out amidst Congress' nationwide ruin (Roundup)
Thiruvananthapuram, May 16 (IANS) In face of its national electoral rout, Kerala appears to have offered a beacon of solace for the ravaged Congress. With Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at the helm, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF)...
Thiruvananthapuram, May 16 (IANS) In face of its national electoral rout, Kerala appears to have offered a beacon of solace for the ravaged Congress.
With Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at the helm, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has managed to secure 12 seats out of the 20 on offer in the southern state, while the remaining went to its traditional rival, the Left Democratic Front (LDF).
Even though this performance was a shade weaker compared to the UDF's performance in 2009, when the coalition won 16 seats, in reference to the electoral horrors faced by the Congress across the country, the Kerala performance would be heart-warming.
UDF's tally of 12 seats this time round were divided among the Congress (8), Indian Union Muslim League (2), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Kerala Congress (Mani) one each.
On the other hand, the LDF not only retained their four seats but also added four more. The division was Communist Party of India-Marxist (5), Communist Party of India (1) and two Independents backed by them.
Speaking to reporters Friday evening, Chandy reiterated the polls were a referendum of his governance.
"Certainly we are happy, even though we expected to do better. Looking at the national level, we swam against the tide and we thank all the UDF workers and the people who gave us this verdict. We will certainly work with this verdict in mind and do our best for the people," he said.
The intense poll battle saw some very close contests, but the main one was witnessed in the state capital where sitting MP and union minister Shashi Tharoor took on 80-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party veteran O.Rajagopal.
Rajagopal led the race until 85 percent of the votes were counted, before Tharoor pipped him to the post winning with a slender margin of 15,470 votes - a far cry from the 99,998 margin he had secured in 2009.
With Tharoor's victory, BJP's dream of a lotus blooming in Kerala, where the party has never won an parliamentary seat, was nipped in the bud.
While the Tharoor battle provided the drama, the giant-killing act was staged by cinestar and comedian Innocent, who contested from Thrissur as an Independent candidate backed by the Left.
Innocent, who has acted in over 500 films beat Congress strongman P.C. Chacko with a margin of 13,884 votes.
"Innocent's victory is a 'colourful' one. His personal charisma did the trick," said Chacko, sportingly accepting defeat.
Another defeat which shook the Congress is that of sitting member K.Sudhakaran from the Kannur constituency.
In a nail biting finish, he was edged out by CPI-M central committee member P.K.Sreemathi by a margin of 6,566 votes.
Crying foul, Sudhakaran said: "They won as they resorted to bogus voting and also putting up candidates with my name."
At Vadakara, Congress candidate and union minister Mullapally Ramachandran scraped through with a margin of just 3,306 votes. This was incidentally the smallest winning margin in these polls.
The biggest victory on the other hand however was notched by Minister of State for External Affairs E.Ahammed of the IUML, who defeated P.K. Sainaba of the CPI-M by 194,739 votes.
Another shocking defeat in terms of the margin of votes came at Palakkad when youth CPI-M sitting member M.B.Rajesh knocked the stuffing out of media baron and Socialist Janata Democratic (UDF constituent) supremo M.P.Veerendra Kumar by a margin of 105,300 votes.
The CPI-M suffered a shock when its politburo member M.A.Baby was beaten by his former cabinet colleague N.K.Premachandran of the RSP at Kollam by a margin of 37,649 votes.
Incidentally, the RSP which was an ally of the Left for three decades, deserted them over seat sharing issues just after the poll dates were announced.
According to veteran CPI-M leader and former chief minister V.S.Achuthanandan, the Left parties were unable to capitalise on the "numerous anti-people measures undertaken by the central and state governments".
"But in Kerala we were able to double our seats as compared to the previous election and for that I thank the people of the state," he said.
Overall on the strength of his performance, Chandy may not only have weathered the nationwide anti-Congress storm, but also bought himself temporary relief from the glare of the solar scam, in which three staffers from his office were linked.