Muslim League candidate KNA Khader defeated his CPI(M) rival PP Bhasheer by more than 23,000 votes to retain Vengara assembly constituency in the Muslim-dominated Malappuram district, according to results that came on Sunday.
The seat fell vacant after incumbent Muslim League leader PK Kunhalikuty was elected to the Lok Sabha in a by-election.
The margin for the assembly by-poll is smaller than the 2016 victory, when the League won by more than 38,000 votes.
The Social Democratic Party of India, the political wing of fundamentalist outfit Popular Front of India, emerged third, cutting into League votes considerably and pushing the BJP candidate to a humiliating fourth.
The SDPI fielded the advocate of Shafin Jahan, the Muslim youth who married Hindu woman Akhila Ashokan, or Hadiya Jehan as she came to be known after she converted, in the by-election. Hadiya and Shafin’s marriage has turned into a bigger controversy after the woman’s family alleged that she was forcibly converted, and the matter reached the Supreme Court after the Kerala high court scrapped the union. The SDPI capitalised on the issue to cut into the League’s share.
“The ruling LDF used its government machinery and dropped the solar bombshell on the polling day but they failed to make any dent,” said KNA Khader.
The Left-run state government had announced a probe against former chief minister and Congress leader Oommen Chandy and many others on the day Vengara went to the poll last week. But CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the victory was only a technical one and the LDF managed to make a big dent in League forte.