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|October 6, 1999||
UDF makes gain in Christian, Muslim belts of Kerala
D Jose in Thiruvananthapuram
A minority consolidation in favour of the Congress and its allies is discernible in Kerala as counting for the 20 Parliament seats in the state progressed. The Congress-led United Democratic Front put an impressive show in the Christian and Muslim belts by improving its vote share. The UDF may wrest Kasargod in the Muslim belt. It has already won Thrissur in the Christian belt from the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic Front.
According to the latest trends, the UDF appeared set to improve its previous tally of 11 seats. The first five results in the state went in favour of the Congress and its allies, the Indian Union Muslim League and the Kerala Congress-Mani.
The Congress won the Thiruvananthapuram seat by 14,458 votes and Ernakulam by 111,305 votes. The Ponnani and Manjeri seats have been won by all-India IUML president G M Banatawala and secretary E Ahmed by 129,142 votes and 123,443 votes respectively. The Kerala Congress-M won Muvattupuzha by 76,939 votes. The UDF has improved its victory margins in Ernakulam, Manjeri and Ponnani.
The UDF has established comfortable leads in Alappuzha, Idukki and Kozhikode. Congress MP for four terms Mullappally Ramachandran has a slender lead of 104 votes in Kannur.
In Adoor, Kodikunnil Suresh (Congress) secured 337,003 votes against the CPI's Chengara Surendran (314,997 votes) and the BJP's K Ravindranath (43,524 votes) The margin of victory: 22,606 votes.
In Mavelikkara, Congressman Ramesh Chennithala, with 307,417 votes, defeated Professor Ninan Koshy, the CPI-M supported Independent (244,029) votes by 33,388 votes. The BJP's K Raman Pillai won 72,847 votes.
In Thrissur, A C Jose (Congress), who won 343,657 votes, was elected by 11,655 votes. He defeated the CPI's V V Raghavan who bagged 332,002 votes. The BJP's A S Radhakrishnan won 43,886 votes.
The LDF has clear leads only in four seats: Badagara, Chiryankil and Kollam. In Ottapalam, President K R Narayanan's old constitutency, CPI-M candidate Ajay Kumar, with 359,023 votes, was elected. Pandalam Sudhakaran of the Congress won 345,169 votes. The BJP's P M Velaayudhan won 70,673 votes.
In Palakkad, sitting MP N N Krishnadas (CPI-M) defeated M T Padma (Congress) by over 30,000 votes.
In Kottayam, sitting MP Suresh Kurup (CPI-M) defeated P C Chacko (Congress) by over 10,000 votes in a multi-corned contest.
The CPI-M, which won Kasargod by 48,240 votes in 1998, has been struggling with a slender lead of 4,484 votes. In Kozhikode, senior Congress leader K Karunakaran's son K Muralidharan has crossed the previous victory margin of 18,276 votes against LDF nominee Chand Mahal Ibrahim, the former federal aviation minister. He leads Ibrahim by 35,298 votes.
In Mukundpuram, Karunakaran defeated CPI-M candidate E M Sreedharan by over 52,000 votes.
The UDF has improved its position in the Christian seats of Ernakulam, Mavelikkara and Mukundapuram. The outcome seems to be influenced by the minority concern against the emergence of communal forces at the Centre and the anti-incumbency factor against the LDF government. The Congress, which treated the election as a referendum on the E K Nayanar government, is bound to demand its resignation.
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