THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: For a state which was gearing up for bypoll in as many as six assembly constituencies, the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to conduct the voting only in Pala on September 23 did come as a surprise.
The poll panel said it has gone by the rule book in the case of Pala. On October 9, six months would have elapsed since the assembly seat fell vacant following the death of Kerala Congress leader K M Mani. As per rules, the poll panel has to hold by-election within six months of an assembly seat falling vacant.
Going by that logic, why was Manjeshwaram assembly seat in Kasaragod left out? The constituency has remained unrepresented for nearly a year, since the death of MLA P B Abdul Razak.
Chief Electoral Officer, Kerala, Teeka Ram Meena explained.
“Unlike other constituencies, the 2016 election in Manjeshwaram was caught in a legal tangle. It was only last month that the case was closed by the High Court. Technically, the seat can be considered vacant only after the election case is closed. So the Election Commission has five more months left to conduct election in Manjeshwaram, which is not the case in Pala,” he told Express.
Besides Pala and Manjeshwaram, other constituencies where bypoll is slated to be held are Vattiyoorkavu, Konni, Aroor and Ernakulam. The MLAs in these constituencies had vacated their seats after winning the Lok Sabha election. According to EC sources, bypoll in these seats, as well as Manjeshwaram, would be held in November.
The ruling CPM did make its annoyance clear with party chief Kodiyeri Balakrishnan alleging a ‘conspiracy’ by the poll panel. Kodiyeri also accused the Election Commission of acting as per its ‘whims and fancies’.
Kodiyeri cited the instance of the recent Rajya Sabha poll in Gujarat which he said the EC ‘deliberately’ held separately to facilitate the ruling BJP’s win. “Had it been held together, the Congress would’ve won one seat,” Kodiyeri said adding the poll panel’s decision to hold election only in Pala was mysterious.
However, the Congress refused comment on the election commission’s poll schedule.
“I don’t want to comment on the announcement by the EC. However, we’re all prepared to face the election,” KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran said.