Blow for ruling Left; opposition UDF wins 18 seats, BJP opens account

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor with supporters during celebrations of the party's lead in the Lok Sabha elections as counting of votes underway, in Thiruvananthapuram, Tuesday, June 4, 2024.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor with supporters during celebrations of the party's lead in the Lok Sabha elections as counting of votes underway, in Thiruvananthapuram, Tuesday, June 4, 2024.

Thiruvananthapuram | Dealing a severe blow to the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, the Congress-led UDF made a virtual sweep of Kerala, lifting 18 out of 20 Lok Sabha seats on a day that saw the BJP making an electoral breakthrough in the state with actor-politician Suresh Gopi winning the Thrissur seat by a huge margin.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi retained the Wayanad seat with a reduced margin of 3,64,422 votes, as compared to in 2019, defeating CPI's Annie Raja, and BJP state president K Surendran finishing a distant third.

Gandhi had won by a margin of 4,31,770 votes in the 2019 LS polls.

The sole consolation for the LDF was its victory in the Alathur Lok Sabha seat with senior CPI(M) leader and minister in the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government K Radhakrishnan defeating sitting MP of Congress Ramya Haridas by a margin of over 20,000 votes.

The Lok Sabha polls saw the UDF almost manage a repeat of the 2019 general election results, with the CPI(M)-led ruling LDF barely holding on. What surprised both the LDF and the UDF is the BJP-led NDA opening its account in the state, where it historically has not had much success.

The figures provided by the Election Commission showed the UDF winning 18 seats, against the figure of 19 achieved in 2019, while the LDF and the BJP got one each.

Of the 18 seats won by the Congress-led alliance in Kerala, two are by the Indian Union Muslim League and one each by the Kerala Congress and the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

The Left Front had won only one seat -- the Alappuzha LS constituency -- in 2019, which it lost this year to Congress General Secretary K C Venugopal who won from there with a margin of 63,513 votes against CPI(M)'s A M Ariff.

Reacting to the results, the CPI(M) on Tuesday said the party and the Left Front would examine all the factors that led to their defeat.

"We will examine all the factors, including the selection of candidates, government-related matters, and so on. If there is anything to be corrected, we will surely correct it. People are the final judges," CPI(M) State Secretary M V Govindan said.

The BJP-led NDA, which had till now failed to win even one seat in the state in the LS polls, took the Thrissur constituency, where actor-cum-politician Gopi became lucky on his third electoral attempt and won with a margin of 74,686 votes.

The actor had lost there in the 2019 LS polls and the 2021 state assembly elections.

While talking to reporters from his home in Thiruvananthapuram, Gopi expressed gratitude to the people of Thrissur and the gods for his historic victory.

He said he had to undergo several "struggles" and "swam against the flow" to achieve the victory.

Calling the people of the constituency as "praja daivangal (subjects who are gods)", he described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as his "political god."

An elated BJP state chief, K Surendran, said the party was able to not only open its account in Kerala but also increase its vote share in a remarkable manner in various constituencies, including Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Attingal, and others.

He said PM Modi requested the people of the state to vote for development, and claimed that the reflection of their acknowledgement of this was seen in Thrissur.

"The BJP achieved a shining victory in Thrissur. We have made remarkable advancements in all the other 19 constituencies," he said.

Modi had visited Thrissur three times this year, and one of them was after the polls were announced.

However, his political campaign for other BJP candidates in the state did not elicit the desired results for the party, which had claimed it would get seats in double digits from Kerala.

The ruling CPI(M)-led alliance suffered severe blows in the majority of the seats, including in their strongholds like Kasaragod, Kannur, Vadakara, and Palakkad.

After counting began in the morning at 8am, the UDF was in the lead in the majority of seats, with trends from the counting of EVM ballots showing that its candidates have a clear edge over their nearest rivals from the CPI(M)-led LDF and the BJP-led NDA.

The candidates of the ruling LDF were trailing in most constituencies, except in the Alathur seat where CPI(M)'s K Radhakrishnan maintained a slight lead against his nearest rival Ramya Haridas of the Congress.

Haridas, who had won from Alathur in the 2019 LS polls with a margin of nearly 1.5 lakh votes, lost to Radhakrishnan this time by a margin of over 20,000 votes.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, his party colleague Dean Kuriakose and UDF-ally RSP's N K Premachandran had a clear lead right from the start of counting in the Wayanad, Idukki and Kollam LS seats, respectively.

Gandhi won the Wayanad LS seat with a margin of over 3.5 lakh votes by getting close to 6.5 lakh votes which was less than the 7,06,367 votes he got in 2019.

Kuriakose won with a margin of 1,33,727 votes and Premchandran with a margin of over 1.5 lakh votes.

The humiliating defeat of the LDF prompted KPCC Chief K Sudhakaran to urge Chief Minister Vijayan to quit office if he has any self-respect.

Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly V D Satheesan attributed the remarkable victory to the Congress and the UDF being able to expose the failures of the Left government in the state, and to the unity of the UDF in the state.

He expressed happiness over the massive margins attained by the majority of its candidates.

He said the defeat of sitting MP Remya Haridas in Alathur constituency was by a small number of votes, but termed the drubbing of K Muraleedharan in Thrissur as "unexpected".

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