Puthuppally By-Election: Chandy Oommen Maintains Solid Lead
Puthuppally By-Election: Chandy Oommen Maintains Solid Lead

KOTTAYAM: As the vote-counting process for the Puthuppally by-election progressed into its fourth round, it became increasingly clear that Congress candidate Chandy Oommen was on the verge of a resounding victory. Early trends suggested he held a commanding lead of 15,000 votes.

With these fresh indicators pointing towards Chandy's triumph, larger-than-life cut-outs of Oommen Chandy began to adorn the streets.

At the current juncture, there are still around 80,000 votes yet to be tallied.

The seasoned Congress legislator Ramesh Chennithala boldly predicted that Chandy Oommen would secure a victory with a margin of nearly 50,000 votes, a feat even the venerable Oommen Chandy, who had won an unprecedented 12 assembly elections dating back to 1970, could not achieve.

Meanwhile, at Oommen Chandy's residence in Puthuppally, his family remained glued to their television screens. His eldest grandson clutched a picture of Oommen Chandy while watching the vote tallying.

Supporters of the Congress have already initiated their victory celebrations, with a humorous comment coming from A.K. Balan, a senior member of the CPI(M) central committee and former State Minister. Balan quipped that if their candidate wins, it would be a "new wonder of the world."

Ironically, throughout the nearly five-week campaign, the CPI(M) had consistently claimed that the Puthuppally electorate would favor their candidate. They argued that despite Oommen Chandy's 53-year tenure as legislator, he had neglected the development of his constituency.

For the CPI(M), a major shock was that even their star campaigner, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who addressed election rallies in all eight panchayats within the constituency, failed to generate any significant response. As of now, Thomas is yet to lead in a single polling booth where votes have been counted.

Voting took place on September 5, with a turnout of 72.86 percent of eligible voters. Of the 176,412 eligible voters, a total of 128,535 exercised their franchise.

The by-election became necessary following the passing of the incumbent Congress legislator, Oommen Chandy, a two-time former Chief Minister who had represented the constituency since 1970, setting a record-breaking tenure of 53 years.

In the electoral contest, Chandy's son, Chandy Oommen, represented the Congress, while CPI(M)'s Jaick C. Thomas made his third attempt in the constituency. BJP's Lijin Lal and four other candidates were also in the fray. In the 2021 Assembly polls, Chandy had defeated Thomas by 9,044 votes.

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