Kerala’s ruling LDF wrests Pala from Congress-led UDF in bypoll

Mani Kappen defeated Jose Tom Pulikkunel by 2,943 votes in his fourth try.

The ruling CPI(M)-led LDF in Kerala on Friday (September 27) won the by-election to Pala assembly constituency, wresting the seat from the opposition Congress-led UDF, after a gap of 54 years.

LDF candidate Mani C Kappen defeated Jose Tom Pulikkunel of the opposition Congress-led UDF in a closely contested fight. Kappen, leader of the Nationalist Congress Party, defeated Pulikkunel, a faction leader of the Kerala Congress (M) by 2,943 votes, in his fourth attempt.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan hailed the verdict and said the government will maintain the trust people have in it. “More than half a century, LDF was unable to win the Pala constituency. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, UDF swept the elections in the same constituency. Every election reflects what the people has to say about the ruling government. We believe in the people of Kerala,” he said.

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“Lok Sabha election 2019 was not in favour of LDF but now this victory has made us more responsible. The government will maintain the trust people have in us.” the Chief Minister added.

“It is an unexpected defeat. We will study the reasons for it and move forward after rectifying the mistakes,” said former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

Jose K Mani, vice chairman of Kerala Congress party and son of KM Mani, said, “I respect the verdict of people, the party will examine the reasons of defeat. We have failed, but will rectify the mistakes and will come back strong. Success and Failures are a part of politics. We had full support from UDF. I am not taking up any controversies at this point of time.”

Mani secured 54,137 votes from 11 panchayat’s in the Pala Municipality while UDF’s Tom Jose secured 51,194 votes. NDA candidate and BJP’s Kottayam district president N Hari came in the third position with 18,044 votes.

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Pala was a bastion of the Congress-led UDF, held by veteran leader and former Finance Minister KM Mani for the last five decades. The bypoll was necessitated due to the demise of Mani in April. The win has come as a huge relief to the LDF after its rout in the Lok Sabha polls.

The bypoll was viewed as an acid test for UDF and the BJP headed NDA as a victory would have given boost to the three major combines prospects in the by-elections to five more assembly constituencies scheduled for October 21.

KM Mani, the founder of the KC (M) represented Pala in the Kerala Assembly, holding the record for the longest-serving legislator of the constituency. Kappan’s victory in Pala will mark the end of the dominance of the Kerala Congress (M), an ally of the Congress. In 2006, 2011 and 2016 elections, Mani C Kappan was defeated by KM Mani in the same constituency.

(With inputs from agencies)

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