Thiruvananthapuram: Campaigning for the June 2 bypoll to the Neyyatinkara Assembly segment, which is crucial for both Kerala`s Congress-led ruling UDF and opposition LDF headed by CPI-M, ended on Thursday after a month-long high-pitch electioneering.
Though the main electoral fight in Neyyatinkara, situated in the southernmost part of the state, is between R Selvaraj (Congress) of UDF and F Lawrence (CPI-M), the entry of former Union Minister and senior BJP leader O Rajagopal as BJP candidate has virtually turned the contest into a three- cornered one.
The poll results are crucial especially for CPI-M as it is their sitting seat. The Left party is also facing an image loss at present after some activists were arrested in connection with the murder of Revolutionary Marxist Party leader T P Chandrasekharan at Onchiyam in Kozhikode on May 4.
The party had lost the recent bypoll at Piravom where UDF candidate Anoop Jacob won by a huge majority and restored the UDF`s tally to 72 in the 140-member Assembly.
A win for the LDF in Neyyattinkara will enable them to retain their number in the Assembly at 68, which they secured in the 2011 polls.
The bypoll was necessitated following resignation of R Selvaraj, who won the seat on a CPI-M ticket in 2011, following differences with the party leadership.
While the campaign plank of the CPI-M is the portrayal of Selvaraj as a "traitor", the UDF is banking on achievements of the one-year rule of the Oommen Chandy government and the "politics of violence" allegedly being perpetrated by CPI-M.
Neyyatinkara, where caste-based formations are an important factor, has a total electorate of 1,54,970. The Christian Nadar community, to which both UDF and LDF candidates belong, is the majority section, followed by upper caste Nairs and other backward community Ezhavas.
At the fag-end of the campaign, the UDF also seized on the recent outburst of CPI-M district secretary M M Mani that his party had killed its political rivals to intensify its campaign against "murder politics".