The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) candidate K.N.A. Khader won the Vengara by-election on Sunday, with a hefty margin of over 23,000 votes.
For the first time in the history of Vengara constituency, the runner-up has garnered more votes than the lead margin of the victor. Although its candidate P.P. Basheer looked disappointed, CPI (M) sources said that they had expected to pocket almost 10,000 more votes than what they got in 2016.
Meanwhile, the sharp decline in victory margin of UDF candidate has become a major blow to Muslim League as the Muslim majority constituency is traditional bastion of the party.
The Congress won this seat after the 2009 Lok Sabha poll when Congress candidate Partap Singh Bajwa won this seat by defeating BJP candidate Vinod Khanna. In 2016, Mr. Basheer had got 34,124 votes against Mr. Kunhalikutty's 72,181 votes. This time the margin of victory shows a decline of 14,747 votes. The election results had not indicated an upheaval in the constituency as speculated in the wake of LDF announcing a Vigilance probe against top leaders of the UDF, including former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in connection with the controversial solar scam and sleaze charges when the polling was in progress on October 11. The BJP candidate managed to secure only 5728 votes while SDPI's Naseer secured 8648 votes. BJP's PT Ali Haji had won 7211 vote in the previous assembly election. "I thank all the people of this constituency and the UDF leaders", said Khader. "BJP and LDF worked together in Vengara, and the votes that BJP lost benefited LDF, which has been their clear strategy to benefit each from the start.More like "Bandhukal shatrukal formula" - where they are related to each other but enemies and fighting each other as well".
The UDF and LDF garnered 65,227 and 41,917 votes respectively.
A byelection was called in the constituency after Kunhalikutty relinquished his seat to contest, successfully, to the Lok Sabha from Malappuram.
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