news Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 05:30
   Senior Congress leader Vayalar Ravi, IUML nominee P.V. Abdul Wahab and CPI-M youth leader K.K. Ragesh won the Rajya Sabha elections from Kerala amid speculation of cross voting in the ruling Congress-led UDF. Ravi secured 37 votes, Wahab 36 and Ragesh got 37. The Left opposition had fielded a dummy candidate in K. Rajan, a senior CPI leader, to capitalise on any possible cross voting. Rajan ended up with 29 votes. The voting began on Monday morning at 9 a.m. and ended at around 12.30 p.m. after all the 139 elected members of the Kerala Legislative assembly had cast their votes. Counting of votes began at 5 p.m. One assembly seat is vacant following the death of speaker G. Karthikeyan. The UDF has 73 members while the Left opposition has 65 members. Estranged former minister K.B.Ganesh Kumar, whose party - Kerala Congress ( Pillai) - is no longer a UDF ally, voted with the Left Front taking their tally to 66. For Ravi who turns 78 in June, this is the fourth term and the third consecutive one in the upper house, while for 64-year-old Wahab, a businessman-turned-politician, it's his second term after his first term in 2004. For 44-year-old Ragesh, this is his first victory in an election. While many thought former Kerala government chief whip P.C. George who was stripped of the post last week for party indiscipline would vote for the Left, that did not happen. "Probably this is my last vote for the UDF and from now on I don't think I can cast my vote for such a corrupt group," said George, who has since been removed as vice-chairman of the Kerala Congress (Mani). Kumar, however, said that he did what his party asked (to vote for the Left candidates). "The UDF is a group which is soft on the corrupt and the whistle-blowers are taken to task. After booting me and my party from the UDF, what's the point in asking for my vote. The UDF now stands for 'utilising democracy for fraud'," said Kumar.