Stating once again that Ernakulam is a stronghold of the Congress, UDF candidate TJ Vinod secured victory in the bye-polls after winning 37,891 votes. But the thin margin of his victory, a mere 3,750 votes, has given a jolt to the Congress party. The outcome would have been worse for the Congress had it not been for a namesake of the LDF candidate.
While the LDF and the UDF blamed the rains and waterlogging on polling day as the reason for the low voter turnout, independent candidate Manu KM, the namesake of the LDF-backed candidate advocate Manu Roy, surprisingly got a commendable vote share in the Ernakulam bye-polls.
While LDF candidate Manu Roy secured 34,141 total votes, Manu KM secured a surprising 2,572 votes. If not for his namesake, though Manu Roy may still not have got enough votes to win the bye-polls, he would have reduced the margin to 1,178 votes.
Unlike the past assembly elections, where only the LDF candidate had a namesake, this time both UDF's T J Vinod and LDF-backed Manu Roy had namesakes. Manu Roy's namesake was placed right next to his name on the EVM machine, while TJ Vinod's namesake Vinod AP, was placed far from his name, thus possibly avoiding confusion for voters.
Despite being able to churn out a victory, Congress now has to analyse the low margin of victory in its own bastion. In the past two assembly polls, Congress's Hibi Eden had secured victory for the UDF by a steep margin in Ernakulam. In the 2016 assembly polls, Hibi Eden had won by a margin of 21,949 votes, by getting a total of 57,819 votes. In the 2011 assembly elections, Hibi Eden had secured 59,919 votes.
Hibi Eden had won the 2019 Lok Sabha polls — which necessitated the bye-polls in Ernakulam — with a margin of 1.69 lakh votes.
Now, with TJ Vinod, who is also the deputy mayor of Kochi Corporation, winning from Ernakulam assembly constituency, the deputy mayor post is vacant and soon, elections for it will be held. It remains to be seen how his present victory in bye-polls — and the Congress-ruled Corporation, which is coming under fire from the High Court over the waterlogging in Kochi — will have an impact on the deputy mayor elections.