CPI-M’s Saji Cherian wins Kerala bypoll with record margin (Fourth Lead)

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Chengannur (Kerala) May 31 (IANS) Contrary to the UDF’s expectations, CPI-M candidate Saji Cherian on Thursday won with one of the biggest margins from the Chengannur assembly constituency as he defeated Congress’ D. Vijayakumar by 20,956 votes.

At the end of the counting process in the 182 polling booths, Cherian secured 67,303 votes, Vijayakumar got 46,347 and BJP’s P.S. Sreedharan Pillai finished third with 35,270 votes. Voting took place on Monday.

In the 2016 assembly polls, the Communist Party of India-Marxist candidate, K.K. Ramachandran Nair, had an overall lead of 7,893 votes and his untimely death in January led to the bypoll.

Nair then defeated sitting two-time Congress legislator P.C. Vishnunath, while Pillai had come a close third with 2,305 votes.

Right from the time counting of votes began at 8 a.m., Cherian maintained a solid lead and till the end not even once did he trail behind, instead at the end of each of the 14 rounds, his lead kept on increasing.

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Celebrations began at Cherian residence just after he crossed the halfway mark with sweets distributed right after the fifth round and his wife coming out to thank the electorate.

Cherian said that it’s a reward for his four-decade of active public life. “My party has been the source of my strength and this is a really good victory. It is a stamp of approval for the ruling Pinarayi Vijayan government.”

The CPI-M candidate was able to get a firm hold in more than 90 per cent of the booths.

Cherian Aled with 77 votes from the booth from where former Congress Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s father hails and so was the case even at the polling booth where Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala and his family voted .

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A beaming Vijayan met the media in Thiruvananthapuram after the results came and said: “Lots of canards were spread against us but the people has given us their wholehearted support and hence this huge victory.”

He said the results should be seen as a green flag to the Left’s programmes, policies and governance.

“It appears that a new political culture has begun in our state where voters failed to fall into communal overtures and they are interested in development,” the Chief Minister added.

Taking a dig at a section of the media, Vijayan said: “TV anchors in suit has been contemptuous against me, but it has been proved that such persons are not the ones to pass verdicts, instead the people have voted for us.”

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Veteran Congress leader A.K. Antony who campaigned in the constituency, said the Left’s victory has taken place due to the manner in which communal politics was played and there was absolute misuse of government machinery.

The biggest setback in the election came for the Bharatiya Janata Party whose votes for Pillai came down from 42,682 in 2016 to 35,270.

Chandy, who led the campaign for the Congress reacted by saying they never expected this outcome.

Veteran K.M. Mani whose party Kerala Congress (Mani), a former ally of the Congress-led UDF, which now sits as an independent block and supported the latter, said: “We did our best but some serious undercurrents beyond politics have taken place and it has to be examined in detail.”

–IANS

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