G. Stephen pips sitting legislator K.S. Sabarinathan to seat by 5,046 votes
Aruvikkara, a Congress stronghold where it has never lost since 1991, witnessed a major upset with LDF candidate G. Stephen defeating sitting MLA K.S. Sabarinathan by a margin of 5,046 votes. For Mr. Sabarinathan, who was widely tipped to win following two consecutive electoral victories and his prominent presence in the UDF’s protests, the defeat comes as a shocker.
Mr. Stephen polled 66,776 votes, while Mr. Sabarinathan 61,730. NDA candidate C. Sivankutty was a distant third with just 15,379 votes to his kitty despite the massive campaign he had mounted. The LDF candidate gained an early lead and continued to maintain it till the end, upsetting all projections.
Works his way up
Stephen (51), who grew up in party offices after being orphaned at a young age, worked his way up from the grass-roots. The incumbent area secretary of the CPI(M) in Kattakada, he had become the president of the Kattakada grama panchayat at the age of 22. He had also served as the chairperson of the development standing committee in the Vellanad block panchayat and as a senate and academic council member of the Kerala University.
Speaking to The Hindu after his victory on Sunday, Mr. Stephen said that the win was never a surprise for him. "I had expected this victory because I was sure that the people would vote for the developmental achievements of the LDF government over the past five years. The secular politics that the front stands for also appealed to the people, who were wishing for a change in the constituency," he said.
The UDF has been winning from Aruvikkara since 1991, when Congress leader G. Karthikeyan wrested the seat from the LDF. He went on to hold the seat till 2015. After he passed away that year, his son Sabarinathan won the byelection and retained the seat by a bigger margin in the Assembly election the following year.
The CPI(M) had expected the LDF government’s decision to include Nadars in the OBC category to pay dividends for its candidate from the community. Bread-and-butter issues that have had an impact on this largely rural economy, also seem to have gone a long way in ensuring Mr. Stephen’s victory.
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