Kochi: Eighty seven-year-old Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, who spearheaded the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front campaign in the Assembly polls, emerged victorious at the hustings, while 92-year-old K R Gowri, the oldest candidate in the fray tasted defeat. (Agencies)
Achuthanandan covered the length and breadth of the state and was the star campaigner for the LDF. The result was evident in the poll outcome as Left candidates put up a stiff fight in most constituencies.
In the run up to the polls, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi had taken a swipe at the veteran Marxist leader over his age, telling Kerala voters that if LDF wins, they would have a 93-year-old Chief Minister by the next elections.
Achuthanandan had given a sharp retort, describing the Gandhi scion as an 'Amul Baby' who had put up a lot of other 'Amul Babies' in the fray.
Gandhi, projected as the youth face of Congress, had told a campaign meeting at Kochi that UDF was a mix of youth and experience, but that voters would have a 93-year-old Chief Minister if LDF won and the next elections comes around.
The CPI(M) state committee had to reverse its earlier decision not to give Achuthandanan a ticket on "health grounds" after intervention from the central party leadership.
Achuthanandan won by over 23,000 votes against Latika Subash of Congress.
Octogenarians, septuagenarians and 92-year-old Gowri, once a firebrand leader, were among those in the poll arena, who had to sweat it out with rivals half their age in the April 13 Assembly polls in Kerala.
Gowri,a former firebrand Communist leader and leader of JSS (Janadhipathiya Samrakshana Samithi), a UDF partner, was defeated by LDF's P Thilothaman, in his forties. She had contested elections 16 times so far and lost only thrice—the first in 1948 in her electoral debut,then in 1977 and in 2006.
Three elections she contested were before the state was formed.
Gowri was Revenue minister in the first elected Communist Government headed by E M S Namboodiripad in 1957 and had piloted the first Land Reforms Bill.
In Nemom, BJP's O Rajagopal, former union minister of state for Railways, also did not find favour with the electorate.
Rajagopal was defeated by CPI(M) MLA V Sivankutty. He had earlier unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha from the state capital in 2004.
Seventy eight-year-old Communist Marxist Party leader M V Raghavan who tried his luck from Nemmara despite ailing health was also defeated, while K M Mani (78), leader of Kerala Congress (Mani) and a former minister, the longest serving legislator, won from Pala by a sharply reduced margin.
National Student Union President and the youngest contestant Hibi Eden, who contested and won on a Congress ticket from the prestigious Ernakulam constituency, defeated veteran CPI(M) independent candidate Sebastian Paul by over 30,000 votes.
For 27-year-old Hibi, testing the electoral waters for the first time, it was a do or die battle for the constituency, once represented by his father late George Eden in the Assembly and Lok Sabha.
Other young candidates-- reportedly handpicked by Rahul Gandhi -- K T Benny from Chalakudy; Youth Congress vice president M Liju (Ambalapuzha), and K P Anil Kumar (Quilandy) were defeated.
Kochi: Eighty seven-year-old Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, who spearheaded the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front campaign in the Assembly polls, emerged victorious at the hustings, while 92-year-old K R Gowri, the oldest candidate in the fray tasted defeat.