IUML wins crucial Malappuram bypoll in setback for Kerala’s LDF govt2 min read . Updated: 17 Apr 2017, 04:39 PM IST
P.K. Kunhalikkuttyfrom IUML, a constituent of Congress-led UDF, wins Malappuram bypoll in Kerala by a margin of 171,038 votes, beating closest rival CPM
Bengaluru: P.K. Kunhalikkutty from the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the second major constituent of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), on Monday won the Malappuram parliamentary constituency byelection by a huge margin of 171,038 votes.
Within one hour into counting, which began at 8am, Kunhalikkutty, IUML party general secretary and former minister, was leading by over 5,000 votes. While IUML polled 515,325 votes, its closest rival, the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM, could manage only 344,287 votes.
The results are an embarrassment for the ruling CPM and the Left Democratic Front government it leads under Pinarayi Vijayan. CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had said during the campaign that the bypoll mandate would be a mandate on the government’s performance.The bypoll, necessitated by the death of veteran Muslim League parliamentarian E. Ahamed, is the first electoral test the government faced after assuming office last year.
UDF got 437,723 votes, while the LDF received 2,42,984 votes in the last Lok Sabha election in Malappuram in 2014. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) received 64,705 votes in 2014, but managed to get only 65,662 votes this time despite a high-stakes battle.
To be sure, the UDF had history in its favour. The overwhelming population of Muslims (roughly 70%) had historically favoured IUML in Malappuram. Before Malappuram was carved out of Manjeri constituency in 2004, the League candidates won from the region in 11 of the 13 elections since 1957. In 2009, Ahamed won the first election after the formation of the present constituency. In 2014, he won a second term with the highest victory margin among all candidates in the fray.
Unlike in 2014, smaller parties like Welfare Party and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), which also claims to represent the Muslim vote bank (both managed to get 29,216 and 47,853 votes, respectively, in 2014), had not fielded candidates in this bypoll. This could have benefitted UDF, analysts say.
“The statement that it would be a mandate for the government’s performance was a political blunder. Malappuram had always been an IUML bastion and this time there was a sympathy wave towards Ahamed. But we were at least hopeful of arresting the margin of victory," said a senior CPM leader, requesting not to be named.
Speaking to reporters, Kunhalikkutty said his victory was more a message to the BJP. “BJP’s vote percentage has decreased, which tells about people’s disapproval of their style of politics," he said.