KOCHI: With just one more day to go for the byelection in Pala, the odds seem highly stacked in favour of the UDF. While the three fronts—the UDF, LDF and NDA—competed with each other by launching a vigorous campaign, they have failed to impress the voters. There is a palpable apathetic attitude among the voters which has surprised the political parties vying to woo the voters.
The UDF camp derives confidence from the history of Pala as it has remained a UDF bastion even when the LDF wave swept the state. However, rumblings within the Kerala Congress(M) has spurred the hopes of the LDF.
“There is only one chance for the defeat of the UDF candidate in Pala and that is the attitude of Jose K Mani. The KC (M) and the Congress were at loggerheads during the Assembly polls in 2016. Even then, the LDF could not defeat K M Mani. Now the Congress workers are campaigning aggressively to ensure the victory of the UDF candidate and it will have a positive impact,” said a supporter of KC(M) working chairman PJ Joseph.
While Mani was elected from Pala with a margin of 4,703 votes in the 2016 assembly election, UDF candidate Thomas Chazhikkadan got a lead of 33,472 votes in Pala in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. This has come as a morale booster for the UDF.
With the Election Commission announcing the date for byelection in five other assembly constituencies in the state, both the fronts are pulling out all stops to win Pala bypoll as the result can influence the electorate in the other five constituencies.
“The UDF will retain the seat with a big margin. The response from the workers who are involved in door-to-door campaign has been overwhelming. We had an upper hand during each stage of the campaign. Though there were some issues like faction feud in the initial stages, we were able to bury the hatchet and put up a united fight,” said Congress leader Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, who coordinated the UDF campaign in Pala.
“The LDF and Chief Minister failed to respond to the allegations levelled against them, including graft charges. The CM, who earlier said he would not engage in political debate had to change his decision in Pala,” he said.
However, CPM district secretary V N Vasavan said LDF candidate Mani C Kappan was more acceptable to the voters in Pala. “The voters in Pala is fed up with the faction feud in the Kerala Congress. It has no symbol or official candidate. The voters are discussing the development of Pala. While the UDF has a compromising candidate, Mani C Kappan is familiar to the voters and is contesting for the fourth consecutive term,” he said.
Kerala Congress leader PC Thomas, who coordinates the campaign of NDA candidate N Hari said the steps taken by the Narendra Modi Government to address the woes of the rubber farmers will work in favour of the BJP candidate. “The Modi Government is working on a Rubber Policy which will help the rubber farmers. The policy will help the government fix a minimum support price for rubber,” he said.