Pala bypoll: Surprise win for LDF as Mani Kappan wins UDF bastion for first time since 1965
This is the first time that the Left front is winning the Pala assembly seat, where KC (M) supremo late KM Mani had been winning all the elections even since the constituency was first formed in 1965.
KOTTAYAM: In a major upset win, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate Mani C Kappan of NCP has won the Pala assembly bypoll, defeating nearest rival Jose Tom Pulikunnel of Kerala Congress (M) of the United Democratic Front (UDF) by a margin of 2943 votes.
This is the first time that the Left front is winning the Pala assembly seat, where KC (M) supremo late KM Mani had been winning all the elections even since the constituency was first formed in 1965. The bypoll was necessitated following the death of Mani in April this year.
As the latest information available, while the LDF polled 54137 votes, the UDF candidate received 51,194 votes. NDA's BJP candidate N Hari only polled 18,044 votes, compared to 24,821 votes the party won in the last assembly election.
The election win will be a shot in the arm for the LDF, which had lost 19 out of the 20 Lok Sabha seats in the Parliament elections in May this year. It will also boost the Left front’s confidence in the upcoming bypolls to five assembly seats in Kerala, going to the polls on October 21.
"I thank all the LDF leaders including the Chief Minister (Pinarayi Vijayan), who camped in Pala to campaign for my victory," said Kappan.
Reacting to the defeat, Jose Mani said UDF contested the election as one single unit, and the front will discuss the election defeat in detail.
Wranglings within KC(M) working chairman PJ Joseph and Jose K Mani, son of KM Mani, had marred UDF campaign in the Pala elections, leading to a situation where Jose Tom had to contest without KC(M)’s official election symbol ‘Two-leaves’ and had to go for the ‘Pineapple’ symbol.
Significantly, Kappan was able to wrest 9 out of the 13 panchayats of Pala assembly seat, indicating a big swing in favour of the Left.
Kappan won the Ramapuram, Kadanad, Melukavu, Moonilavu, Thalanadu, Thalapalam, Bharananganam, Karoor and Elikulam panchayats while Jose Tom led only in Mutholi, Meenachil, Pala and Kozhuvanal.
Given the fact that Thomas Chazhikadan, the KC-M candidate in Kottayam parliament seat had got a lead of 33,472 from the Pala assembly segment, the loss is a big setback for the UDF.
The election win is a case of fourth time lucky for Kappan, who had contested against KM Mani in the last three assembly elections in Pala, but without success.
In the 2016 assembly election, Kappan lost to Mani by a margin of 4,703 votes.