PALA: The defeat of Kerala Congress (M) independent Jose Tom in the Pala bypoll has come as a rude shock for the UDF which expected an easy victory with a comfortable majority. According to UDF sources, the factional feud within KC(M) has cost the front dearly, giving a breather to the LDF which was dispirited after the humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections held just five months ago.
Though the LDF claims it was the development agenda of the state government and the sympathy for Mani C Kappan, who had contested Pala unsuccessfully thrice earlier, that turned the tide in their favour, UDF leaders believe rumblings in the KC(M) that played spoilsport.
According to a Joseph group leader, the undue haste shown by Jose K Mani to take over the reins of the party and his arrogance had irked party supporters. Attempts to sideline working chairman P J Joseph and the way he was humiliated by a section of supporters during a campaign meeting did not go down well with the traditional voters of KC (M).
“Jose K Mani himself did not want Jose Tom to win the election as he did not want a new claimant for the Pala seat. He wanted to contest from Pala in the next Assembly election and wanted to prove that only a member of KM Mani’s family can win Pala seat,” said a Joseph group supporter.
UDF rules 11 of the 13 local bodies in the constituency, including Pala Municipality. However, Jose Tom could lead only in three panchayats--Mutholy, Meenachil and Kozhuvanal bordering Pala town. In Ramapuram and Kadanad, considered strongholds of the UDF, Kappan secured a lead of 752 votes.
“KM Mani had secured a lead of 180 votes in Ramapuram while he had a majority of 107 votes in Kadanad in the 2016 Assembly polls. Thomas Chazhikadan led by 4,500 and 2,727 votes in these panchayats in the recent Lok Sabha polls. But the UDF candidate was trailing in both these seats”, said a Congress leader.
Last time, the UDF bagged 58,884 votes while this time it could garner only 51,194 votes.
What next for Jose K Mani
Kottayam: For Jose K Mani, the victory of Mani C Kappan in Pala is a big setback. For the first time, the party has lost the constituency which was considered its bastion. The poll rout has landed Jose in a difficult situation. Though the leaders of his faction held a meeting at Pala on Friday soon after the announcement of results, it failed to decide on the further course of action. Jose left for New Delhi soon after the meeting, while another leader Roshy Augustine, MLA, stayed away citing his mother’s ill health. “We have not decided on the future course of action so far. The party’s foundation day falls in October and we will devise a plan after this,” said N Jayaraj, MLA. The leaders are mainly looking at how to avert a situation of the leaders switching over to the rival faction. Recently, former Pala Municipal chairman George Joseph Padavan joined the Joseph faction.
NDA to look into vote erosion
T’Puram: BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai said the NDA lost over 6,000 votes in the Pala Assembly constituency while maintaining that BJP votes were not lost in the election. The NDA will hold a detailed analysis into the circumstances which led to NDA vote erosion in the constituency. The winning candidate also admitted that he had not received any votes from the BJP while saying that he had sought votes from the NDA front, Pillai said indirectly referring to the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) votes in the Assembly constituency.