Even though PK Kunjalikkutty was elected as the national general secretary of Indian Union Muslim League early this year, he preferred to stick to his home turf, playing a key role in the United Democratic Front (UDF). Now with the emphatic win in the Lok Sabha by-election from Malappuram, the former Kerala minister, who is known as a master strategist, is entering the national scene as a strong Muslim leader.


Muslim League workers had started distributing green laddus, a specialty of Malappuram, much before the counting ended. Kunjalikkutty won by a margin of 1,71,023 votes. The The UDF candidate won over half of the total votes polled.  Malappuram was the first by-election after the Pinarayi Vijayan government assumed office in May last year.

"The UDF put up a grand performance," Kunjalikkutty said after the results. "The BJP was the worst hit by the poll results. It shows that the BJP has no say in Kerala politics," he added. The UDF candidate dismissed allegations of communal polarisation. "The literate Kerala voters have voted for secular politics," he added. 
 

Also read: Malappuram by-polls: Significance of an inconsequential election
 

Kunjalikkutty had maintained his lead from the very beginning of the counting in the Muslim dominated Malappuram Loksabha constituency. The by-poll was necessitated after the death of E Ahamed, former Union Minister. Ahamed had won Malappuram in 2014 with a huge margin of over 1.94 lakh votes. 

 

All the seven assembly constituencies in Malappuram stood with UDF, which would be a cause of worry for the ruling LDF in the state.

 

 Malappuram by-polls

  • Total voters: 13.12 lakh
  • Total voting percentage: 71.2%
  • PK Kunjalikkutty- UDF:5,15,330 
  • MB Faisal- LDF: 3,44307
  • Sreeprakash- BJP-NDA: 65,675
  • NOTA:4098
  • Candidates: 9

 

Meanwhile, the LDF blamed what it called a 'dangerous Muslim consolidation' for the humiliating defeat of its candidate. "The UDF victory is not surprising, considering the history of the LS constituency. The UDF resorted to the dangerous politics in Malappuram by-election by consolidating votes on communal lines," MB Faisal said. 

 

Vote share in Malappuram by-poll: 

  • UDF- 55.04% (2014- 51%)
  • LDF- 36.77% (2014- 28%)
  • BJP- 7.01% (BJP-7.5)
     

The LDF leaders also criticised the Muslim League for allegedly buying votes of Social Democratic Party of India and Welfare Party of India, known for their hard line brand of minority politics. At one point, the LDF had hopes of winning the seat as it did in 2004 when TK Hamsa of LDF upset the Muslim league in Manjery constituency of which Malappuram was a part before the redrawing of the constituency limits. But the LDF could not put up a good show in Perinthalmanna and Mankada assembly constituencies where it pinned hopes of winning a lead over Kunjalikkutty.

 

The BJP-led NDA camp also would not be happy with its performance. In 2014, its candidate Sreeprakash had won over 64,000 votes. Despite a high voltage campaign this time, Sreeprakash, who was fielded once again by the party, could not make much advances this time.  The BJP was hoping to win one lakh votes this time. Their hopes were not fully unrealistic, as the party had managed to garner over 81,000 votes in the 2016 assembly polls from the seven constituencies in Malappuram. The BJP's vote share marginally dipped this time from 7.5% to just 7.01%