Media baron Veerendra Kumar elected to Rajya Sabha

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Thiruvananthapuram, March 23 (IANS) Left Front-backed candidate M.P. Veerendra Kumar on Friday won the Rajya Sabha by-election from Kerala by securing a huge margin against Congress candidate Babu Prasad.

Kumar, who resigned the seat in the Rajya Sabha after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar joined hands with the BJP, contested the seat after shifting from the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

The 80-year-old Kumar, a former Union Minister and newspaper baron, secured 89 votes as against 40 that Babu Prasad got.

Counting that was supposed to begin at 5 p.m, took place after a delay of 50 minutes with the UDF leaders complaining that as per the guidelines three parties — Communist Party of India, NCP and Janata Dal-United — failed to appoint their agents and that their votes should not be counted.

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In the 140-member house, one seat is vacant following the death of a legislator. One vote of the LDF was declared invalid.

Six legislators of the Kerala Congress (Mani), who currently sit as an independent block, the lone BJP legislator O. Rajagopal and independent legislator P.C. George did not vote.

The LDF met here early this month and offered the seat which Kumar himself had resigned in December, after his party JD-U decided to end its alliance with the Congress-led UDF.

Kumar and his party remained part of the LDF till 2009 but shifted to the UDF camp after he was denied his sitting Lok Sabha seat of Kozhikode.

His party nominee was given a Cabinet post when the Oommen Chandy government assumed office in 2011.

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Kumar lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls by over one lakh votes and since then he was unhappy with the UDF too. However, the UDF kept him happy by offering him a Rajya Sabha seat in 2016. wHEN he decided to quit the UDF, he put in his resignation in December last year.

“More than winning, I am happy that I am back with the LDF,” said Kumar soon after arriving at the CPI-M headquarters here and was greeted by General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and state party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

–IANS

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