UDF win boosts Chandy – BJP gains too 

Thiruvananthapuram, June 30 (IANS) K.A. Sabarinath of the Congress was on Tuesday elected to the Kerala assembly from Aruvikara, trouncing former speaker M. Vijayakumar of the CPI-M by over 10,000 votes. The result came as a relief to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, and also provided reasons for the BJP to smile.

Although the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which heads the Left Democratic Front, came second, veteran BJP leader O. Rajagopal polled 34,145 votes, an impressive five-fold growth over the party’s vote share of 2011.

Allegations of corruption flew thick and fast during the campaign, and a Congress defeat would have been seen as a personal setback for Chandy. But Sabarinath won by a handsome 10,128 votes, triggering celebrations by the Congress activists and supporters.

Sabarinath, son of G. Karthikeyan, who represented the constituency for 24 years and died in March, bagged 56,448 votes. Vijayakumar of the CPI-M got 46,320 votes.

Chandy told reporters that the victory would make the Congress-led United Democratic Front more humble.

“The people in Aruvikara have bestowed upon us a huge responsibility to take forward their dreams and aspirations. The people voted for us because they saw through the negative campaign of the Left,” he said.

“The Left fails to learn from mistakes. This victory is a pointer that in less than a year from now when the assembly polls are held, we will retain power,” said Chandy.

Sabarinathan dedicated the victory to his late father.

“For 24 years my father represented this constituency, and the electorate gave this victory for the work he did,” he said. “This victory is also for Chandy’s development agenda.”

Opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan, who was the star campaigner for the Left and whose rallies drew massive crowds, accused the Congress of abuse of power during the campaign.

“Minority appeasement and the ground covered by the BJP also helped the Congress victory,” said the former chief minister.

CPI-M politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan added that the Congress “misused office to win this election. This loss will help us to regroup and work harder for the coming local body elections this year”.

CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said: “A loss in one election means nothing because it will help us to work much harder for the coming elections.”

There were 16 candidates in the fray and 184,210 voters. The voter turnout was 70 percent.

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