The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] has bagged 16 of 30 seats in the recently concluded by-elections for various local bodies across the state. The Congress-led United Democratic Front which is also in the opposition, has won 12 seats, while the Bharatiya Janata Party has failed to secure even a single seat in the by-election.
The results announced on Friday, February 15, are being considered as a public referendum on the current political scenario in the state, ahead of the Lok Sabha election. Ever since the Supreme Court gave a verdict allowing women of all ages to enter Sabarimala temple in September 2018, the Congress and BJP have been trying to set a political agenda by polarising voters in the name of religion and culture. The right-wing BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have unleashed massive violence in the state following the verdict.
The by-election results, however, show that the saffron party wasn’t able to gain much- at least in terms of vote- in the state. On the other hand, the LDF government which had declared a position that the government is constitutionally bound to implement the apex court’s orders got a positive mandate from the voters.
About 80.12 per cent of the voters had turned out for voting in the local body by-elections, which were held in 12 districts out of total 14. Of the total 30 seats, apart from LDF and UDF, one seat was won by the Revolutionary Marxist Party and one was secured by a UDF rebel candidate.
It is interesting to note that at Puthusserymala ward in Ranni Panchayat in Pathanamthitta where Sabarimala is situated, the CPI(M) candidate won the seat defeating the BJP candidate. Here, the Congress candidate was in third position and it has been alleged that there was a mutual understanding between Congress and BJP to defeat the CPI(M) candidate. UDF lost five of its sitting seats, with LDF wresting power from the UDF and vice versa.
Earlier, in the November 2018 bypolls too, the LDF had registered a massive victory by winning 21 of the total 39 seats, while UDF had secured 12 seats and BJP had bagged 2 seats.
In these two consecutive by-polls that took place after the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala, it is clear that BJP has failed to make any inroads.
Read More: LDF Wins Big, as BJP Bites the Dust in Local Body Bypolls in Sabarimala