LDF Scripts Historic Win in Pala Bypoll; Did Infighting Turn Away Voters from Kerala Congress?

Representative image.

Representative image.

The seat was represented by the late KM Mani of the Kerala Congress since its seat’s creation in 1965. His death on April 9 had necessitated the bypoll.

Neethu Reghukumar
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Thiruvananthapuram: The Left Democratic Front (LDF) has tasted a historic win in the Pala Assembly constituency that was represented by the late KM Mani of the Kerala Congress since its seat’s creation in 1965. His death on April 9 had necessitated the bypoll.

LDF’s alliance candidate Mani C Kappan (Nationalist Congress Party) won by a margin of 2,943 votes. The by-election victory came as a huge morale booster for the ruling LDF in the state after its abysmal performance in the Lok Sabha elections winning only one of the 20 seats.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “The scenario was different during the general elections. People know the UDF (United Democratic Front) is not suited for the state. A majority of voters believed that the LDF should come to power so that the development activities undertaken by the government continue. The verdict bestows on us more responsibility and we will fulfil it. We thank the people of Pala.”

Finance Minister Thomas Issac wrote on Twitter, “The LDF wrests Pala constituency which for the last 54 years have been represented by the late K M Mani, the former UDF finance minister of Kerala, by a margin of 2953 votes.In the last Lok Sabha election UDF had a majority of 33,000 votes in this assembly segment.”

CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the front was humbled by the trust reposed by people for the first time in 54 years.

Analysts feel infighting within the Kerala Congress party had added to the woes of the UDF in a place considered its stronghold.

"This shows that people think differently when it comes to Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. The infighting within the Kerala Congress also perhaps played a role as some people may have stayed from voting. The by-election saw 6% less polling compared to the number of voters in the 2016 Assembly elections,” said J Prabhash, an analyst.

UDF leaders have expressed shock over the result and are now hoping the factions led by the late veteran leader’s son Jose K Mani and party leader PJ Joseph would make peace.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullapally Ramachandran said, “The infighting in Kerala Congress party since the announcement of the bypoll has affected the outcome. The truth is the voters of Pala were angered by what was happening. There is nothing for the CPI-M to boast of in this win. People have strongly protested against this government across the state (during the LS elections). It will be visible when other by-elections are held.”

Also, Prabhash said, compared to the previous election, the BJP that has been trying to inroads into the state has received less number of votes.

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