KOTTAYAM: As only hours remain to know the successor of Kerala Congress supremo late K M Mani from Pala in the assembly, leaders of both UDF and LDF have expressed confidence of emerging victorious even as the ‘vote sale’ row hit the BJP camp. The Pala Assembly bypoll is seen as an acid test for the fronts as a victory there would give a big boost to their prospects in the byelections in five constituencies scheduled for October 21 in the state.
The ruling LDF is pinning hopes on the factional feud that had gripped Kerala Congress (M) after K M Mani’s demise and the popularity of their candidate Mani C Kappan, who is contesting for the fourth consecutive time. However, UDF leaders say the situation had turned favourable for their candidate Jose Tom Pulikkunnel towards the end of campaigning though factional bickering in KC(M) hit them badly in the preliminary rounds.
“We expect a victory margin of more than 25,000 votes this time. Pala is always a soil of UDF and the issues in Kerala Congress have not affected us anywhere,” said Philip Kuzhikukam, KC(M) Pala constituency president. His optimism belies the open criticism aired on the polling day by KC(M) senior leader and P J Joseph loyalist Joy Abraham.
“LDF will register an impressive victory and wrest the Pala seat by a margin of 5,000 votes,” said Jose Parekkattu, the front’s Pala assembly election committee convener.