Malappuram By-Election : IUML Candidate Wins by Record Margin

The much anticipated by-elections in Kerala, watched by analysts and pundits as indicator of the prevailing political climate, was won by Congress led United Democratic Front(UDF) and Indian Union Muslim League legislator P K Kunhalikutty by a record 171,038 votes. He remained far ahead of his nearest rival Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) candidate and youth leader MB Faisal, while BJP candidate Sree Prakash came a distant third. With 515,330 votes, Kunhalikutty broke the record of late E Ahmed who polled a stunning 437,723 votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. It was Ahmed’s death that had triggered the by-poll.

Malappuram constituency is considered the forte of IUML and UDF, and the party has won by margins of over a lakh votes in both the LS and the state elections in the last three years. IUML supporters broke into celebration, with Kunhalikutty attributing the UDF victory to the electorate placing faith in a secular outlook. Meanwhile, LDF candidate MB Faisal claimed that the victory was evidence of UDF colluding with the communal groups, in a not so subtle reference to the rise of the BJP in recent years, especially in the South.

Polling was mostly peaceful, with a high of 71.33 per cent recorded towards the closing of booths. More than 1100 polling booths were set up in the constituency that has seven assembly constituencies, with a total electorate of 13,12,693. Of the total 13,12,693 electorates, 9,36,315 persons including 4,93,433 women exercised their franchise.

The Kerala by-election was one of eleven by-elections held across the country, with seats up for grabs in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and six other states. This victory comes as a confidence booster for Congress, which also won in MP and Karnataka. It also marks a rebuffal of the BJP and the saffron agenda in the aftermath of its spectacular win in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. However, elsewhere in the country, it was a mostly BJP show, especially in the Rajouri constituency in Delhi where the ruling AAP party, led by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, finished a paltry third behind the BJP and Congress, and had to turn in its security deposit.