KOTTAYAM: Even though, candidates and other politicians intensely campaigned at the grass-root level, the polling percentage in the Pala assembly constituency byelection held on Monday recorded significant decrease compared to the previous assembly election held in 2016. As per Election Commission records, the provisional polling percentage was 71.43 at 6 pm, the closing time. The final figure is likely to change after the final compilation of the election data. Of the total 179,107 voters in the constituency, 127,939 voted, in which 65,203 were males and 62,736 females.
There is nearly six per cent decrease in the voter turnout compared to 2016 elections when the constituency had registered 77.25 per cent polling. The polling percentage in Pala assembly segment was 72.68 in the previous Lok Sabha elections. Though, the initial hours witnessed brisk polling with the polling recorded at 13.20 per cent at 9 am and crossed 50 per cent by 2 pm, the turnout of voters came down in the afternoon session. The polling was peaceful in the constituency.
Meanwhile, the candidates of the major political fronts claimed the trend in the voter turnout in their favour and exuded confidence of winning the battle. The LDF candidate Mani C Kappan was cent per cent confident of winning the election. “The fall or rise in polling per cent would not affect LDF prospect. Several factors favour LDF including the absence of a towering candidate like K M Mani in the opposite side, discontent in UDF and united efforts made by the LDF leadership. I will win with a resounding majority,” Kappan told Express.
The UDF candidate Jose Tom also didn’t have any doubt about his victory. “Though the polling was not recorded as expected, this won’t affect our chances. I don’t want to comment about the majority. But, the overall trend was in favour of the UDF. People of Pala want a UDF representative to follow the footsteps of K M Mani,” he said. The NDA candidate N Hari, too appeared confident. “Taking into account the responses from the booths, I am confident about the results. The BJP and NDA workers in the polling booths were very much enthusiastic on the turnout of the voters,” he said.
Earlier, the polling commenced with a mock poll in the morning. Polling was delayed in six booths as some EVMs developed technical snags before the polling started and four machines faulted halfway. Polling resumed after the sectoral officers replaced the voting machines in those booths.
Mani C Kappan and Jose Tom cast their votes in the early hours of the polling at Govt Polytechnic School, Kanattupara and Govt LP School, Poovathode respectively. Kerala Congress (M) leader Jose K Mani, MP, and his family members voted at booth number 128 at St Thomas High School, Pala by 8.45 am. Popular voters including Pala bishop Joseph Kallarangattu, actor Miya, filmmaker Bhadran and others also cast their votes in the morning itself. The byelection was declared following the demise of Kerala Congress(M) stalwart KM Mani in April.