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Rahul Gandhi’s Lead Crosses 2 Lakh Mark; Congress-UDF Maintains Lead in 19 of 20 Seats

The Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF govt had expected to repeat its 2004 performance when it won 18 seats.

Thiruvananthapuram: The Opposition Congress led-UDF in Kerala appears to be heading for a landslide in the state by continuing its lead in 19 of the total 20 Lok Sabha seats with AICC President Rahul Gandhi so far garnering over two lakh votes from Wayanad.

Gandhi, who contested from Wayanad, besides his traditional stronghold of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, garnered 2,58,975 votes till 1.30 PM, as per the Election Commission website.

Besides Gandhi, five UDF candidates-Remya Haridas, Hibi Eden, Dean Kuriyakose (all Congress), P K Kunhalikutty and E T Mohammed Basheer (both IUML) have crossed the one lakh mark, as counting of votes is progressing in 140 centres across the southern state.

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The only consolation for the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF was its performance in Alappuzha constituency, where its nominee A M Ariff is ahead of its Congress rival Shanimol Osman by a margin of 9308 votes at 1.30 PM.

Gandhi’s presence seems to have helped UDF put in an impressive performance in the polls.

The Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government had expected to repeat its 2004 performance, in which the Left Front won 18 seats, despite most exit polls predicting only 4-5 seats for them.

The BJP-NDA had also high expectations of opening its maiden LS account from the state this time, riding on the Sabarimala women’s entry issue, which saw protests breaking out after the LDF government decided to implement the Supreme Court verdict, permitting women of menstrual age to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa temple.

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However, the saffron party could make its presence felt so far only in Thiruvananthapuram,where its candidate Kummanam Rajasekaran came second, trailing former union minister and Congress nominee Shashi Tharoor.

K Surendran, the BJP candidate in Pathanamthitta, the ground zero of Sabarimala agitation, is trailing.

Union Minister and BJP candidate Alphons Kannanthanam also continued to trail in Ernakulam constituency, way behind Congress’s Hibi Eden and CPI(M)’s P Rajeev.

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