UDF wins in a nail-biting finish in Thripunithura

K. Babu of the UDF defeats LDF’s M. Swaraj by a narrow margin of 992 votes

In a nail-biting contest that went right down to the wire, K. Babu of the United Democratic Front (UDF) defeated incumbent MLA and Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate M. Swaraj who put up a valiant fight by a whisker of 992 votes.

While Mr. Babu secured 65,875 votes, Mr. Swaraj ended up with 64,883 votes. K.S. Radhakrishnan of the BJP performed way below par and managed to win only 23,756 votes.

The contest promised to be a see-saw battle right from the outset and lived up to that billing. Though Mr. Babu led, albeit marginally, almost right through except at the end of round four of the 16 rounds when he conceded a lead of a mere nine votes. While he restored the lead in the following rounds, he never succeeded in securing a runaway lead, as Mr. Swaraj always kept him in sight and even managed to bring it down to as little as 203 at the end of the 14th round.

However, Mr. Babu eventually managed to cross the line and wrest the seat back from Mr. Swaraj who had defeated him by 4,467 votes five years ago when he was under the cloud of the bar bribery scam.

The UDF had fielded Mr. Babu, a five-time MLA whose maiden victory is dated back to 1991, as an afterthought only in the wake of protest by local Congress leaders. Though the party had fleetingly considered former Mayor Soumini Jain, he eventually managed to pull his weight and force himself into the contest.

He had run a campaign banking on his perceived accessibility to Mr. Swaraj’s alleged aloofness. The latter was undaunted as he exuded confidence of winning people’s mandate by the sheer weight of the development work he claimed to have brought to the constituency.

Eventually, that was not to be the case, and he lost out to a seasoned campaigner who has now made a resounding comeback after being relegated to the periphery and was largely ignored even by his own party during the last five years.

Meanwhile, his status as an academician and the financial and organisational heft of the BJP did not help Mr. Radhakrishnan even match the party’s performance in the previous election, despite the organisation’s perceived clout in the constituency.

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