Hibi’s win may force CPI(M) to rework its strategies

UDF candidate garners a record 4,91,263 votes, cementing the perception that Ernakulam is a Congress citadel

It was not just holding the Congress fort that Hibi Eden did in Ernakulam.

Instead, he created a record of sorts by nearly doubling the victory margin of the Congress in the constituency.

When the poll results were officially declared, Mr. Eden posted a huge win by a margin of 1,63,514 votes, thus cementing the popular perception that Ernakulam is the citadel of the Congress.

The margin of 87,047 votes polled by K.V. Thomas, the sitting MP, in 2014 was the best that a Congress candidate could post ever in the constituency.

While nearly doubling the margin, Mr. Eden also decimated the electoral hopes of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and its candidate, P. Rajeev of the CPI(M), who could garner the support of only 3,22,110 voters as against 4,91,263 votes won by the winner.

More than the defeat, what puzzles the CPI(M) is its unsuccessful hunt for a candidate who could garner party votes, besides making forays into the United Democratic Front (UDF) vote base.

The party leadership had projected Mr. Rajeev as the best candidate they could find for Ernakulam, considering that he had been active in the socio-political arenas of the district since his student days. He had also expanded his reach and acceptance in the constituency during his term as a member of the Rajya Sabha and later as the district secretary of the CPI(M).

The party bosses will have to rethink their political strategies shortly in the constituency and the criteria for selection of the candidate as they will have to face a byelection in the Ernakulam Assembly Constituency in six months when Mr. Eden will relinquish his membership in the State Assembly.

There may be reasons for K.J. Alphons, the National Democratic Front (NDA) candidate in Ernakulam, to cheer about though he was trounced.

Cabinet hopes

Though defeated, Mr. Alphons may be nurturing hopes of being a Minister in the new Union Cabinet as he continues to be a Rajya Sabha member. The BJP had earlier nominated him from Rajasthan.

The candidature of Mr. Alphons, it appeared, had not made a significant impact on the vote share of the party as he could add only 38,746 votes to the vote share of the BJP candidate in the 2014 elections. This time, Mr. Alphons polled 1,37,749 votes.

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