By Francis Ngige
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s two-seat victory in Monday by-elections has changed the political landscape in central Kenya where his party now appears the ticket of choice.
The victory in Kangema and Kajiado North constituencies not only made Uhuru’s The National Alliance the only new party to have MPs in Parliament alongside those that were in existence in the 2007 General Election.
It also turned the tide against the other parties within central Kenya that have been demanding that TNA must respect them, as they are equal partners.
All of a sudden, the scramble for space in TNA has intensified as it seemingly is getting to be the doorway to elective positions on offer next March in central Kenya.
So intense is the scramble for a piece of TNA that as other parties seem edged to the periphery, with a possibility they might have to work with Uhuru one way or another. As a result of the new political tidal wave, aspirants for various seats are jostling to identify themselves with the new party, while others are trying to portray themselves as Uhuru’s point men in their areas.
Capturing the Kajiado North seat, which was late former Internal Security minister George Saitoti’s, boosted Uhuru’s image in the national rating as he wrestled with more seasoned parties like Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement.
Apart from capturing a seat in the Rift Valley constituency, Uhuru also secured the seat in Murang’a formerly held by late Environment minister John Michuki in a race that included Maina Njenga’s Mkenya Solidarity party, and the Party of National Unity.
The Monday win for TNA candidate Tiras Ngahu, who garnered 13,752 votes against United Democratic Forum (UDF) Simon Mwangi’s 2, 981offered Uhuru an opportunity to settle old political scores.
Ngahu replaces Michuki, who caused a stir before his death by declaring Uhuru the de facto leader of the region after the retirement of President Kibaki. Uhuru’s effort to personally campaign for the seats appeared to have paid off, and changed the notion that the region subscribes to different political parties.
Two other presidential aspirants from the region, Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua and Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, who is running on Kenya National Congress ticket, will also have to contend with the effect of TNA win.
Although the two did not field candidates in the Kangema by-election, a Narc-Kenya candidate in Mutira ward was defeated in Karua’s Kirinyaga home turf, while Kenneth would also be seen to have been beaten in his Murang’a County.