The Left Democratic Front retained the Chengannur Assembly constituency in Kerala’s Alappuzha district. The results for the bye-election, which were announced on Thursday, showed that the front’s candidate, Saji Cherian had won with a margin of 20,956 votes.

Cherian defeated D Vijayakumar, the candidate of the United Democratic Front, which is led by the Congress. While Cherian secured 67,303 votes, Vijayakumar got 46,347. Cherian is the Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Alappuzha district secretary.

National Democratic Alliance’s candidate PS Sreedharan Pillai, of the Bharatiya Janata Party, finished third with 35,270 votes.

The Congress’ votes increased by 1,450 from its 2016 tally. The biggest loser, however, was the BJP, despite its recent attempts to gain a foothold in the state. The number of votes cast for the saffron party declined by 7,412 from the 2016 election.

The bye-election was necessitated following the death of sitting MLA and CPI(M) leader KK Ramachandran Nair in January. Nair had won the seat in 2016 by a margin of 7,983 votes.

Cherian said the victory margin had exceeded his expectations. “This victory is an endorsement for the Pinarayi Vijayan government,” he said. “I got votes from all sections of the society.”

Vijayakumar said the party machinery’s failure resulted in his defeat. “We didn’t have workers at the grass-root level,” he said. He also claimed that the CPI(M) and the BJP joined hands to defeat the Congress.

Pillai, the BJP candidate, claimed he lost because Congress workers “sold” their votes to the CPI(M). “CPI(M) used money power to buy votes. We will study how BJP lost more than 7,000 votes this time,” he said.