Malappuram: The Indian Union Muslim League today retained Malappuram Lok Sabha seat with its candidate P K Kunhalikutty winning by over 1.7 lakh votes in the bypoll, defeating the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF nominee.
Kunhalikutty, who defeated his nearest rival M B Faisal (CPI-M), led in all seven assembly constituencies of Kondotty, Manjeri, Perinthalamanna, Mankada, Malappuram, Vengara and Vallikkunnu and won by a margin of 1,71,023 votes.
While Kunhalikutty polled 5,15,330 votes, Faisal got 3,44,307 votes and 65,675 votes went into the kitty of BJP candidate N Sreeprakash.
The bypoll had been necessitated following the demise of E Ahamed, a former Union Minister and leader of IUML, a key partner in the Congress-led UDF Opposition in the state.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in Delhi that the LDF’s vote and voting percentage had gone up and the bypoll outcome was not a verdict against the state government.
Marxist veteran V S Achuthanandan said Kunhalikutty’s victory margin was natural as Malappuram is a IUML stronghold.
Kunhalikutty is a member of the assembly from Vengara constituency and this is his maiden foray to Parliament.
The former Industries and IT minister rejected the argument that his win was the result of minority polarisation.
“There was no communal polarisation and the electorate has voted for secular politics,” he said adding the verdict was a setback to the BJP government at the Centre.
Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said LDF’s drubbing was a vote against the CPI(m)’s ‘arrogance’ while Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said it was a slap in the face for the ‘anti-people’ policies of the 11-month-old LDF government.
Muslim-dominated Malappuram is considered an IUML bastion.
While there were 4,098 NOTA votes, 657 votes were declared invalid.
A total of 71.33 per cent voters had exercised their franchise in the bypoll against the 71.11 per cent recorded in the previous election here.
Of the total 13,12,693 electorate, 9,36,315 people, including 4,93,433 women, exercised their franchise.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Ahamed had won the seat by a margin of 1,94,739 votes against CPI(M)’s P K Sainaba.