ALAPPUZHA: The Left citadel of Aroor was finally conquered by Shanimol Usman of the Congress, who trounced Manu C. Pulickal of the CPM by 2,079 votes on Thursday.
Shanimol secured 69,356 votes, Pulickal 67,277 and NDA's Prakash Babu 16,289.
It was sweet revenge for Shanimol who had lost the recent Lok Sabha elections from Alappuzha to A.M. Ariff of the LDF. PWD Minister G. Sudhakaran would also be regretting his controversial 'Poothana' comments against her.
She maintained a slender lead in all the panchayats, including CPM strongholds like Perumbalam, Thuravoor, Aroor and Pallipuram.
Pulickal had an edge only in the postal votes which vanished when the EVM counting started. Three EVMs- two at Pallipuram and one at Aroor- went out of order for a while, but Shanimol had a comfortable lead even when the votes in them were counted later.
CPM district secretary R. Nazer attributed the LDF's failure to the vote trade between the UDF and the BJP. "We secured more votes than in the Parliament elections in May, but fared badly compared to the 2016 Assembly elections, which will be looked into," he said.
Ariff had secured 65,008 votes and Usman 65,656 from the Aroor Assembly segment in the Lok Sabha elections.
But the BJP rejected the allegations of vote trade. K. Soman, district president, said the UDF won due to the consolidation of minority votes. "We admit the people of Aroor rejected our politics of Hindutva and development," he said.
DCC president M. Liju claimed that the unity of the party workers and the systematic work by the UDF were behind the victory.
Ariff had ended the unchallenged run of Gowri Amma, leader of the Janathipathya Samrakshana Samithi, in the 2006 Assembly elections.
He retained it in 2011 and 2016, the last time with a record margin of 38,519 votes. From 1965, the constituency had stood by Gowri Amma seven times as Left candidate and twice as JSS leader.
Out of the five constituencies, Aroor had registered the highest voting percentage of 80.47 on Monday.