Central Kerala is traditionally pro-UDF, but the alliance was imbued with the force of a juggernaut as it demolished the strongholds of the Left in Thrissur, Idukki and Alappuzha Lok Sabha constituencies in the general elections this time.
In Alappuzha, where CPI(M)’s A.M. Ariff bucked the trend to post a win by over 9,000 votes, he trailed in all assembly segments except Cherthala, which gave him a lead of 17,000, and Kayamkulam, where he led by some 4,000 votes.
The jolt suffered by the Left front in the region could be gauged from the fact that of the 42 assembly segments in Thrissur, Chalakudy, Ernakulam, Idukki, Alappuzha and Kottayam Lok Sabha constituencies, the alliance could garner a lead in just three segments, with CPI(M)’s V.N. Vasavan also managing to lead Vaikom assembly segment of the Kottayam Lok Sabha seat by about 9,000 votes.
In the assembly elections in 2016, the Left had secured 26 of the 42 assembly segments in these Lok Sabha constituencies.
Four of the UDF candidates from the region posted victory margins of over one lakh, while it was over 93,000 votes for T.N. Prathapan in Thrissur, where NDA candidate and film star Suresh Gopi managed to clinch the second position in Thrissur assembly segment, relegating CPI’s Rajaji Mathew Thomas to the third spot. Thrissur assembly segment is held by CPI leader and Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar.
In Ernakulam where Hibi Eden, MLA, posted a record victory margin of 1.69 lakh votes, the Left could not come anywhere close to him in any of the assembly segments. In Thripunithura, Vypeen, Kochi and Paravur segments where the Left was hoping to clinch a lead, it suffered a rout.
In Chalakudy, actor and sitting MP Innocent, put up a close fight only in Kaipamangalam assembly segment (held by the CPI).
Idukki, which was won by Congress’s Dean Kuriakose by a margin of 1.71 lakh votes, bestowed on him the biggest lead from Thodupuzha segment (37,000 votes) followed by Muvattupuzha (30,000 votes), which is held by the CPI in the Kerala Assembly.
Kottayam sprang no surprises, as Thomas Chazhikkadan won comfortably. But the NDA candidate from the constituency, P.C. Thomas, was able to garner 1.55 lakh votes, thrice over the votes polled by the NDA candidate in 2014.
Alappuzha, too, witnessed a similar trend, with the NDA candidate K.S. Radhakrishnan polling 1.86 lakh votes, thereby spoiling Congress’s prospects. NDA candidate A.V. Thamarakshan had polled just about 43,000 votes there in 2014.
S. Sarma, MLA and State committee member of the CPI(M), attributed the voting pattern to a ‘general approach’ on the part of the electorate across the State to oust the BJP from the Centre. “They did not vote against the Left, but they favoured the Congress thinking the party would be better equipped to form a non-BJP, secular Union government,” he told The Hindu.