The victory of UDF in Malappuram LS by-poll was quite predictable, given the voter behavior in the past few elections. And the responses of the political parties to the poll outcome were more or less on expected lines.
 

Related: Green laddus say it all: UDF's Kunjalikkutty wins by over 1.71 lakh votes in Malappuram



As the winning margin of UDF candidate PK Kunjalikkutty soared over 1.5 lakh votes, the political observers were waiting to see how Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the CPM state secretary, would justify his earlier statement that the poll results would be an assessment of the LDF government in Kerala.

 

UDF-IUML workers celebrate the victory

Soon after the official announcement of the results, Balakrishnan met media persons and gave an analysis of vote share. The UDF could only win a margin just over 77,000 votes, he said. At the same time, the LDF votes soared over one lakh, which was a promising figure, the CPM leader stated. In 2014, the Welfare Party of India (WPI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) candidates together bagged nearly 77,000 votes. These parties didn’t field candidates this time to help Kunjalikkutty. When these votes are considered, the UDF has not achieved anything great. In fact, the victory margin of the UDF dipped, he argued. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also felt that the 10 percent increase in LDF vote share was a good sign.


But the CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran said that the LDF needs to study the poll outcome and the defeat by over 1.7 lakh votes.

 

The Congress has grabbed the opportunity to take on the Pinarayi Vijayan government. “If the poll result is an evaluation of the left govt. in Kerala, as predicted by Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Pinarayi Vijayan has no right to remain in power,” said Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala. The poll verdict reflected the public resentment over the anti-people policies of the centre and state governments, said KPCC president MM Hassan.

 

The BJP had alleged that the CPM and the Muslim League had struck a secret understanding to ensure the victory of PK Kunjalikkutty. In the context of the emphatic win by the UDF candidate, such allegations could be aired louder now.

 

But what could be worrying for the CPM and the LDF would be the poor performance of MB Faisal in areas in which the front performed well in the assembly elections in 2016. The LDF could take a lead over Kunjalikkutty in any of the 7 assembly constituencies under Malappuram LS constituency. The LDF was expecting a good fight in Kondotty, Vallikkunnu, Manjery and Perinthalmanna and Mankada. But it could not put up a semblance of fight in any of these constituencies.

 

However strong the LDF tried to absolve the Pinarayi Vijayan government from the responsibility of the defeat in the first by poll after it assumed power in last May, it cannot dismiss the fact that the recent bad blood over the Jishnu death case and the mishandling of the struggle by his mother, along with the internal bickering in the ruling front played against the left candidate. By all measure, the opposition will sharpen the criticism of the state government, as it will face the real test as Vengara assembly seat goes to by-polls soon.