THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the LDF and UDF announcing its candidates and the NDA following suit on Monday, declaring BJP Kottayam district chief N Hari as its pick, the bypoll to Pala Assembly constituency is wide open. The decision to field Hari, 41, hailing from Aanikkad in Kottayam,was taken by the BJP central leadership on Monday.Hari had unsuccessfully fought K M Mani in the 2016 Assembly election.
LDF candidate Mani C Kappen has already started campaigning and with the election convention of the front to be inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on September 4, the campaign will gain momentum. Three CPM secretariat members -Power Minister M M Mani, K J Thomas and Vaikkom Viswan- have been given the charge of the LDF campaign, with CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan overseeing the campaign. The CPM is eyeing an all-out victory in Pala and the combine’s confidence was evident with the Chief Minister going as far as to state the Pala byelection will be the referendum of the LDF Government.
The rival UDF camp has issues galore with Jose K Mani faction and the PJ Joseph faction at loggerheads with each other. But with campaigning gathering momentum, as is its wont, the UDF will close ranks and campaign unitedly. P J Joseph has already told reporters he will be campaigning for the victory of the UDF candidate Jose Tom Pulikkunnel whose candidature was endorsed by Jose K Mani.
With the UDF election convention scheduled for inauguration on Friday, the party and the front will accelerate the campaign which has already picked up steam.There is confusion in the UDF over the allocation of the KC(M)’s official symbol to the UDF candidate as with K M Mani’s demise and P J Joseph and Jose K Mani fighting for the chairman’s post, the Election Commission may not be in a position to allot the symbol to Jose Tom.
However UDF leaders including Ramesh Chennithala and Jose had stated that the front will fight the elections under the name of K M Mani and the mood in the UDF camp is pretty upbeat. The coming byelection is significant since this is the first time in over half a century that the familiar face of K M Mani will be missing from the heat and dust of the campaign in the Pala constituency.