Femina Jaisal /Thiruvananthapuram, June 3 (BPNS)
Congress candidate Uma Thomas, wife of the late Congress legislator PT Thomas has won the Thrikkakkara bypoll, held on May 31, in a margin of over 25,015 votes. Uma surpassed the record set by former Thrikkakara MLA Benny Behanan in 2011 and her husband PT Thomas in 2021 before reaching the final round of counting.
With this sparkling victory, Uma becomes the only Congresswomen legislator in the Kerala Assembly. Uma Thomas secured 72,770 votes, while the LDF recorded 47,752 and the BJP procured 12,957 votes. The state Congress had to win the assembly to maintain their upper hand in the constituency for over a decade. In the Thrikkakkara assembly bypoll held in the wake of the death of PT Thomas, the UDF candidate maintained a clear lead throughout the vote counting. Uma Thomas beat out Dr.Jo Joseph, the ruling Left Democratic Front candidate, the main rival of Kerala’s opposition as well as AN Radhakrishnan, the BJP candidate.
While Uma Thomas secured 1.35 lakh, including 67,152 male voters (70.48%), and 68,167 female voters (67.13%), pegging the polling percentage at 68.75 percent. The voter turnout in the 2021 assembly election in Thrikkakara was 70.35%.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan campaigned vigorously along with his cabinet in tow and over 75 legislators in Thrikkakkara, after celebrating one year of LDF Government, to hit the prestigious century in the assembly seats, did not trouble Congress. While UDF marched with this historical win, the LDF’s desire for 100 seats was dashed as the state’s power had no substantial impact in Thrikkaakara.
The slogans voiced out for K-Rail has been lowered throughout the campaign, but still Thrikkakkara chose to stand with Congress, after losing consecutive assembly elections in both 2016 and 2021.
In 2021, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Government won 99 seats out of 140 Assembly seats, compared to 91 seats in the 2016 Assembly election, breaking Kerala’s four-decade-long electoral tradition.
The Congress sent its most senior leaders to the field, including former Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala and former ministers K Babu and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, to fight tooth and nail to keep the constituency that has backed them since the district was born.
The election triumph was especially significant for Leader of the Opposition VD Satheesan, who had led the campaign. The by-election was the Congress’ first electoral battle since he took over as Leader of the Opposition in May 2021, following the party’s disastrous poll results.
Despite the fact that the Congress claimed that Uma Thomas’s nomination was unanimous, the party has encountered severe internal opposition to her candidacy. There were claims that Uma was chosen as the candidate solely because she was PT Thomas’s wife, in order to elicit compassion. The party was able to counter this by pointing out that she was a college leader of the Kerala Students’ Union.
Both the Congress and the BJP used their election campaigns to highlight statewide protests against the LDF government’s ambitious Silverline project, which aims to connect Kasaragod district to the southern Thiruvananthapuram district, cutting travel time from 12 to four hours. The LDF responded by claiming that winning the bypoll would be a vote of confidence in the project, which has been criticized for its price and a harm for the environment.