Warhorses forced to face new equations

Chandy’s victory margin plummets; P.C. George loses his fief; KC(M) gives up its prized possession, Pala

The Biblical saying, “For, what profits a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul” was in the air on Sunday when Kerala Congress (M), an ally of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) did reasonably well in the elections, but its supremo Jose K. Mani received a trouncing at the hands of Mani C. Kappan, sitting MLA, in Pala.

The defeat was made even more bitter by the fact that the Left front cruised to a second term and had Mr. Mani won, he would certainly have got a Cabinet berth. A shift in about 10,000 votes from the BJP’s kitty from 2016 was cited by him as the reason for his defeat. The party also failed to make the cut in Kaduthuruthy, its de facto capital.

But Congress veteran Oommen Chandy was given a scare by young Left leader Jaick Thomas, who put up a good fight reducing the former’s margin by a third from 2016. Among the wins of the Left in Kottayam district, the one in Poonjar stood out. Strongman P.C. George, who’s held it as his fief, had openly challenged the Muslims of Erattupetta to vote against him. This seems to have resulted in a consolidation of Muslim votes in favour of LDF candidate Sebastian Kulathunkal.

Sole exception

Only Ernakulam district in the central Kerala region bucked the Left wave that swept across the State. While the UDF was able to retain its 2016 tally of nine seats, it lost two much-talked about seats, Kalamassery where it had fielded ex-Minister V.K. Ebrahim Kunju’s son and Kunnathunad, where the Anna Kitex-backed Twenty20 played a key role in sealing the UDF’s fate. But it was able to wrest Muvattupuzha, a sitting CPI seat, and Tripunithura from the Left. The Pala phenomenon of ‘BJP underperforming to the benefit of the UDF’ was cited by CPI(M) cadres for the defeat of M. Swaraj by a slender margin of 992 votes.

Alappuzha, where the Left was believed to have made a mistake by not fielding its veteran leaders T.M. Thomas Isaac and G. Sudhakaran, however, gave a comfortable win to the Left front in all constituencies except Haripad, won by Congress’s Ramesh Chennithala. Singer and Left leader Daleema wrested the Aroor constituency from Shanimol Usman.

Mani’s margin

In Idukki district, the Left secured all except the Thodupuzha seat. Some channels had predicted a tough run for M.M. Mani. If his win in 2016 was by a slender margin, he won by over 38,000 votes this time around.

The Left wave was stronger in Thrissur district where except for Chalakudy, the UDF failed to win any seat. But the Thrissur constituency saw a fight down to the wire in which CPI’s P. Balachandran scraped through.

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