After a lot of noise around the Nemom Assembly constituency in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, finally the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has emerged winner. The LDF’s V Sivankutty won the seat by defeating Kummanam Rajasekharan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by 5,000 votes. K Muraleedharan of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) was pushed to third position.
On winning the seat, Sivankutty said, "Nemom was dubbed as the Gujarat of Kerala by the BJP. But the (Kerala) Chief Minister had said that the BJP's account will be closed in Kerala and we made it happen. I want to thank the secular people of Kerala for it."
Nemom has been a closely followed constituency since the 2016 Assembly election. That was the year the BJP opened an account in the state. BJP’s O Rajagopal was elected from Nemom, making him the first elected Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the party in Kerala. V Sivankutty, CPI(M) leader of the LDF who was the MLA at the time, was defeated by 8,671 votes. The UDF’s candidate – V Surendran Pillai of the JD(U) – had finished a distant third getting only 9.7% of the votes, causing critics to doubt if supporters of the UDF had an understanding with the BJP to cross-vote.
Sivankutty had secured more or less the same vote share as the previous time he won in Nemom in 2011, actually getting nearly 10,000 more votes. So the gain made by the BJP was out of the UDF’s loss and this brought on sharp criticism.
The controversy was heightened when Rajagopal said in an interview to Asianet News this year that there were indeed such understandings between the BJP and the UDF, to defeat the Communist party.
The UDF’s candidate selection for Nemom in this year’s election was therefore keenly awaited. And they kept up to the expectations of fielding a “strong candidate” by announcing the name of K Muraleedharan, senior Congress leader, four-time MP, two-time MLA, and son of Congress veteran K Karunakaran.
The BJP did not field Rajagopal, who turned 90 last year, but chose Kummanam Rajasekharan, who was earlier the state president of the party and Mizoram Governor. The LDF fielded Sivankutty for the third time.
Watch: What candidates had to say pre-election