Thiruvananthapuram: The ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front lost its sitting seat, Aroor in a nail-biting photo finish when the results of the bypolls to five assembly constituencies were out on Thursday.
But, the wresting of two traditional strongholds of the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front, that too with a resounding win, has given them an upper hand in the bypolls, which is considered a curtain raiser to the 2021 Assembly elections.
The LDF candidates won two seats- Vattiyoorkavu and Konni- while the UDF nominees retained Ernakulam and Manjeswaram and wrested Aroor.
The UDF failed to repeat its magical performance in the Lok Sabha polls though it retained two of its sitting segments and managed to wrest one seat from the ruling front.
The BJP-NDA could neither win any seat nor improve their vote share compared to the previous Lok Sabha polls.
Barring its second position in Majeswaram constituency, the BJP-NDA suffered a dip in its vote share in many constituencies, as per the preliminary figures, indicating that the saffron front has to toil much harder to break the traditional bipolar polity of the southern state.
A stellar performance was inevitable for the Left front in the October 21 bypolls to reinforce confidence among its cadres as it had suffered a massive drubbing in the April 22 Lok Sabha polls.
In one of the most significant contests, LDF's V K Prasanth, the mayor of Thiruvananthapuram city Corporation, wrested Vattiyoorkavu, the UDF's sitting seat, with a record majority of 14,465 votes leaving senior Congress leader K Mohankumar far behind.
Even the district CPI(M) leadership had expected 7,000-10,000 lead for the young candidate, the resounding majority has come as a surprise for everyone.
It was a prestigious battle for LDF in Vattiyoorkavu as the Nair Service Society, an influential outfit of the forward Nair community, which had been at loggerheads with the ruling front over the Sabarimala women entry issue, indirectly pitched its weight behind the UDF in the bypolls.
NSS General secretary G Sukumaran Nair had declared that its members would adopt a "right distance" in the bypoll against its long-held stand of "equi-distance".
NSS members had even openly canvassed votes for the UDF candidate in Vattiyoorkavu, which naturally heightened the expectations of the front.
The candidature of Prasanth has been a discussion point since the beginning as the LDF had showed the nerve to field a comparatively junior leader that too from backward Ezhava community in Vattiyoorkavu, where the forward Nair community has a comparatively high majority.
The Left party banked its hope in the image of the young leader, whose relief works in the recent floods had garnered public attention, even as the UDF leaders called him an "inflated balloon."
The unexpected victory of K U Jenish Kumar, another young leader, in Konni, a traditional stronghold of the UDF, was another feather to the ruling front's cap.
Kumar, who maintained a comfortable lead throughout the counting, had won the seat with a majority of 9953 votes.
Amid the historic success in Vattiyoorkavu and Konni, the loss of the sitting seat of Aroor in a photo finish race cast a gloom in the LDF camp.
The party candidate, Shankara Rai's third position in Manjeshwaram, after BJP-NDA, also came as a humiliation for the left front.
Infighting in the party over candidates and lack of coordination and unity during campaigning was generally seen as reasons for UDF's failure in retaining its two sitting seats.
Even though it could retain its bastion Ernakulam, the party leadership has to find answers for the massive dip in the majority there.
UDF nominee T J Vinod, also the deputy major of the Kochi Corporation, won by just 3750 votes, while UDF candidtae M C Kamaruddin retained Majeshwaram by 7923 votes.
Senior Congress leader Shanimol Usman's shining performance by wresting Aroor from the CPI(M) with a margin of 2079 votes in a photo finish was the most notable victory for the Congress-UDF.