Shock for UDF as heavyweights taste defeat at the hustings


Mayoral hopeful N. Venugopal and Dy. Mayor Premakumar among prominent losers

It did not begin well for the UDF.

The first result announced on the day came as a rude shock to the Congress, as its Mayor candidate and senior leader N. Venugopal lost the contest by one vote.

An electoral defeat in Island North, which Mr. Venugopal has always held as his home turf, was something unpalatable for the seasoned politician. Venugopal, who will turn 70 shortly, suffered defeat at the hands of a political novice, T. Padmakumari of the BJP.

Many consider this election as the last opportunity for Mr. Venugopal, who was defeated by Tony Chammany in the UDF Parliamentary Party election in 2010 held after the civic polls, to become the Mayor. Though the UDF won majority of seats in 2010, most Congress councillors favoured Mr. Chammany over Mr. Venugopal. It took a long time for Mr. Venugopal to concede the defeat, as many of the Congress candidates, whom he supported in the election voted for Mr. Chammany at the crucial parliamentary party meeting.

The 2020 elections witnessed many UDF heavyweights, including Deputy Mayor K.R. Premakumar, former town planning chairperson Shiny Mathew, who unsuccessfully bid for the post of Mayor, welfare standing committee chairperson P.D. Martin and Congress Parliamentary Party secretary M.B. Muralidharan kiss the dust.

The Congress candidates who won include KPCC general secretary Deepthi Mary Varghese, former health standing committee chairperson V.K. Minimol, M.G. Aristotle, and Malini Kurup.

Shibu Chammanikodathu, the V4 Kochi candidate who contested from Palarivattom, bagged 1,213 votes, the highest a candidate of a non-political formation could muster in the 74 divisions it contested in. Joji Kureekad, CPI local committee secretary and former councillor, who contested as an LDF-backed Independent, defeated Joshy Pallan, the UDF candidate. As many as 12 candidates fielded by the formation won over 500 seats in their divisions, which had influenced the poll outcome. Though none of the V4 Kochi candidates romped home victorious, they were instrumental in ensuring the defeat of at least a few candidates.

The CPI has put up its all-time best performance in the Kochi Corporation by getting its four councillors, C.A. Shakkeer, who returned to the council after a gap of five years, Mr. Kureekad, C.N. Ranjith, and K.A. Ansiya elected to the council.

The defeat of the two Deputy Mayor probables of the LDF, Poornima Narayan and Aji Francis, will force the CPI(M) to look for new faces from among the elected women councillors. While Ms. Narayan, the former chairperson of the education standing committee, suffered drubbing at the hands of Antony Painuthara, Prathibha Ansari, the former health standing committee chairperson, was defeated by Abhilash Thoppil in Edakochi South.

Four former CPI(M) councillors returned to the council after a gap of five years to be part of the leading combination. While P.S. Viju won the Nambyapuram seat for the party, V.A. Sreejith won Kadebhagam, Deepa Varma, Edappally, and P.R. Renish, Thevara.

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