In what will be seen as a semi-final before the 2021 Assembly elections in Kerala, five constituencies across the length and breadth of the state would hold bye-elections on October 21, the Election Commission announced in New Delhi Saturday. The votes will be counted on October 24.
The bypolls in Kerala will be conducted alongside 59 other constituencies across India which have fallen vacant due to different reasons. The EC also declared that the assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana would also be held on October 21, with the votes being counted three days later.
In Kerala, bye-elections would be held in Aroor, Ernakulam, Konni, Manjeswaram and Vattiyoorkavu seats. Apart from Manjeswaram, all other seats fell vacant after the sitting MLAs were elected as MPs to the Lok Sabha in May this year. The Manjeswaram bye-election was necessitated after the death of sitting IUML legislator PB Abdul Razak last year. There was also an ongoing case in the High Court on a petition filed by BJP candidate K Surendran alleging fake votes being cast in the 2016 election. After Razak’s death, Surendran withdrew his plea and the case was dismissed.
All three political coalitions in the state — the CPM-led LDF, Congress-led UDF and BJP-led NDA, have high stakes riding on the bypolls. Since they are located in the north, central and southern parts of the state, the results will be a barometer of the impending assembly elections in 2021. In the two bypolls after 2016, when the Left Front government was elected, the UDF and LDF won one seat each.
The bypolls will be a test of the policies and governance style of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led administration, which was humiliated after the LDF’s flop show in the parliamentary polls. The LDF won just one seat while the UDF won the remaining 19 seats.
The BJP, even as it swept large sections of the country in 2019, has not been able to open its parliamentary account in the state. Even in the state assembly, it has just one MLA. In this round of bypolls, it will have its eyes especially on Manjeswaram and Vattiyoorkavu, where it lost out by 89 votes and 7,622 votes respectively last time.
Along with Pala constituency, which will go to the polls on Monday, the bypolls will set the table for what will be a keenly-fought triangular battle in 2021.