The bye-election was called for after the death of sitting LDF MLA Ramachandran Nair.

Chengannur bye-poll LDF retains seat Saji wins by a landslide
news Bye-election Thursday, May 31, 2018 - 12:30

In a landslide victory, the LDF on Thursday will manage to retain their seat in Chengannur by winning the bye-election in the Assembly constituency. The results of the bye-poll held on Monday will be declared on Thursday, and at the time of writing, the ruling-LDF’s Saji Cherian won comfortably with 67,303 votes.

UDF’s Vijayakumar is second with 46,347 votes and the BJP, that was hoping to make inroads in the state, has been pushed to the third position with 35,270 votes. 

When the counting began at 7.45 am, Saji was leading and managed to retain the lead through the day.

As for the BJP, they were not able to retain their last performance, when they received only 2000 votes less than the Congress candidate.

Happy with the win, Saji Cherian said, “The Nair Service Society and Christian community stood with the LDF. This is why we won.”

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, state secretary of the CPI(M), has called the victory an endorsement of the pro-people policies of the LDF government. He said that the Congress had adopted a 'soft secularism' stand against the BJP, which had backfired.

A disappointed Congress, which leads the UDF, said that they did not expect the results to go this way. "The verdict is not as expected," former Chief Minister and Congress leader Oommen Chandy said.

"We don't think that the existing political issues and the situation in the state were discussed or subjected to evaluation in the election. But what was projected was communalism. We will examine the result and will strenghthen our fight against the government," opposition leader Chennithala said

The bye-election was called for after the deaths of sitting LDF MLA Ramachandran Nair, who won in 2016 with 52,880 votes; UDF candidate Vishnunath had come second last time, with 44,897 votes. The BJP's Sreedharan Pillai, at the time finished a close third with 42,682 votes.

With the general elections due in 2019, Chengannur bye-poll was considered as a litmus test for all the mainstream parties. And naturally, this led to high-decibel campaigns leading up to the bye-election. While the LDF denied that there was an anti incumbency in Chengannur, BJP found it an opportunity to ensure that their unexpectedly good performance during the last election was strengthened. Leaders including Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb visited Chengannur for on the ground campaigning.

Ramachandran passed away in January, and the Election Commission declared the polling date in May, weeks after declaring the dates for Karnataka Assembly Elections.

Despite the delay in declaring the bye election date, the leaders of all the main parties had begun campaigning well in advance.

Candidates

The CPI(M) fielded Alappuzha district secretary Saji Cherian as the candidate for the Left Democratic Front. Saji is an active political figure in the constituency - after all, he started off as a student leader here. The Congress candidate represented the UDF, D Vijayakumar, is also a familiar face in the constituency and is viewed as an unassuming leader who never confronted the party leadership after being denied a seat in 1991.

The BJP, meanwhile, fielded PS Sreedharan Pillai. The former State President of the party won 42,682 votes in the last election, losing to the Congress candidate by just over 2,000 votes. The very fact that the BJP managed to win over 40,000 votes prompted the party to field Sreedharan Pillai in this bye-election as well. Sreedharan, who is from Venmani Panchayat in Chengannur, moved to Kozhikode a long time back.

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