Uma Thomas, the Congress candidate on Friday won the bypoll in Kerala’s Thrikkakara Assembly seat by securing 25,016 votes, which is the highest ever margin in the constituency.
Uma led in all of the 12 rounds of counting and at no stage did the CPI-M candidate Joe Joseph come near. Contrary to the claims of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who had assured the audience at his first election rally in the constituency that Joseph would be the new legislator representing Thrikkakara.
At the end of the counting while Uma secured 72,770 votes, Joseph came second with 47,754 and BJP veteran A.N. Radhakrishnan came a poor third with 12,957.
Emerging from the counting centre, Uma was all smiles and said this electoral battle was not one between Uma and Joe, but between Pinarayi Vijayan and his team and others.
“I dedicate this victory to P.T. Thomas and am extremely thankful to each and every Congress worker who helped me in my campaign and above all to all the people in my constituency,” said Uma.
State Industries Minister P. Rajeev, the local man who spearheaded the Left campaign on his party’s behalf said they accept the verdict.
“In our preliminary assessment what we have found out was that there has been a consolidation of votes towards the Congress from various quarters. The BJP candidate got fewer votes than the last time. We will make out a detailed assessment,” said Rajeev.
Uma’s late husband P.T. Thomas won the April 2021 Thrikkakara Assembly polls with a margin of close to 14,500 votes, but on Friday she recorded the highest ever margin of victory surpassing the 22,406 votes which Congress candidate Benny Behanan got in 2011, when the constituency first came into being.
State Congress president K. Sudhakaran said that the ‘Captain’ (that’s what the CPI-M cadres call Vijayan) has been floored.
“It was no one else but CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan who said that the verdict in Thrikkakara bypoll would be an assessment of the Vijayan government. And now that the verdict has come, it is best that Vijayan should quit. What Vijayan should understand is that the people of Kerala do not think on the lines of development that he and his party thinks,” said Sudhakaran.
Former Defence Minister A.K. Antony after campaigning at Thrikkakara said that the electorate will give a shock treatment to Vijayan.
“The voters have done it and they have given a shock treatment to the arrogance and rudeness of Vijayan,” said Antony.
Two-time former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, despite his failing health, was the star campaigner for Uma. He was in the constituency for most of the days concentrating only on family meetings.
“This is a huge win for the Congress and the prime reason is that there was absolute cooperation among the entire UDF and all worked with total discipline. Vijayan and the CPI-M’s hashtag of development was never going to be a clincher as people in Ernakulam know that they played spoilsport for each infrastructure project which came up here. The electorate knew that and voted for us,” said Chandy.
CPI-M candidate Joe Joseph, an interventional cardiologist, said that he congratulated the winner.
“I accept the people’s verdict and the CPI-M will look into what happened,” said Joseph, who often during the campaign used to say he will win by hitting a sixer and help the CPI-M -led Left to a century of legislators.
Meanwhile, angry Congress workers vented out their ire against turncoat former Congress veteran K.V. Thomas, who left the party to teamup with Vijayan. The workers burned his effigy. The Congress workers were seen distributing a particular fish, which is often referred to as something that Thomas used to gift to top Congress leaders in Delhi for getting his things done.
Ernakulam CPI-M district secretary C.V. Mohan termed the development “unexpected”. “We never expected this, but we humbly accept the people’s verdict. With the kind of efforts we put in this should not have happened. We have to analyse where we went wrong,” he said.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had reportedly led the campaign at Thrikkakara accompanied by his cabinet ministers, while his 75 legislators had campaigned at the constituency.
Mohan, however, gave a clean chit to the chief minister saying that he never led the campaign.
“The Chief Minister never leads an Assembly by-election and it was the district party which do it. This verdict cannot be an assessment of the Vijayan government, as this is the only one constituency and not a state-level election,” said Mohan.
As soon as Mohan said this, TV channels started airing CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s earlier statement that they have no qualms in saying that this would be an “assessment” of the Vijayan government.
Meanwhile, the CPI-M top brass, including Vijayan and Balakrishnan, and others were closeted at the state party headquarters in the state capital.
The election was necessitated after the sudden demise of two-time Thrikkakara’s Congress legislator P.T. Thomas in December last year.