THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was the first and only leader to say that the Pala by-election could be a referendum on his government. This comes at a time when Left leaders, including CPM state secretary Kodiyeri, were just not confident enough to brag in the wake of the recent poll drubbing. On Friday, however, it was Pinarayi who had the last laugh with the Pala electoral outcome swinging in the Left’s favour.
In Pala, though the contest was apparently between the KC(M) and NCP, the actual political fight was between the CPM and the Congress. It was Pinarayi versus the Congress all the way. A slew of Congress leaders, right from A K Antony to Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala and Mullappally Ramachandran, held the Congress poll bugle in Pala all throughout the campaign.
At the other end, it was Pinarayi who led the Left poll brigade from the front. Though it is the NCP that won the seat, this can easily be termed a victory for the CPM due to the untiring efforts put in by Pinarayi along with Kodiyeri by camping here for long for campaigning.
The victory has come as a major morale booster for the ruling front ahead of the October 21 bypolls to five Assembly segments. Wresting Pala - a Kerala Congress stronghold for 54 long years - has provided the much-needed confidence boost for the LDF after its recent humiliating Lok Sabha poll debacle.
It can also be read as a clear indication that issues like Sabarimala that played the spoilsport for the Left in the LS polls - seem to now have been relegated to the back burner for the time being at least. While the voters seemed to have rejected the UDF campaigns against KIIFB and KIAL, the Left seems to have successfully cashed in on corruption charges against the UDF in the Palarivattom flyover case. A sizeable population that has always stood with the Kerala Congress (M) clearly voted in favour of the Left this time.
Viewed against the backdrop of the recent Lok Sabha polls when the UDF gained a majority of over 33,000 votes from Pala Assembly segment alone, the bypoll victory points to a clear rethink by the voters this time around. The dip in BJP votes too proved crucial.
Focus on sharing of Cabinet berth
T’Puram: Mani C Kappan’s victory in Pala has brought the focus on sharing of Cabinet berth within the NCP. So far, the party has two MLAs in the House - Transport Minister A K Saseendran and party state president Thomas Chandy. With NCP getting one more legislator, there are indications that the Chandy faction may push for ministership for Kappan. Right from the time of campaigning, there were rumours in this regard. On Friday, Chandy did not reject reports over ministership for Kappan. Responding to questions, Chandy said the party central leadership would take a final call in this regard. However, while replying to queries from the media, Kappan said no such discussions over Cabinet berth were held so far. Meanwhile, Saseendran rejected such reports. “There are no such discussions within the party. As per the procedure, such decisions are taken by the central leadership,” he said.