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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

LDF wins Kerala’s Pala seat ending 55-year reign of Congress-led UDF rule

Kerala by-poll: Mani C Kappan notched a winning margin of 2,943 votes as he got 54,137 votes and his opponent Jose Tom of the Kerala Congress (Mani) managed 51,195 votes. Kappan is from Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which is an ally of the LDF in Kerala.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2019 16:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Mani C Kappan, the LDF candidate, has won the Pala assembly bypoll in Kerala.
Mani C Kappan, the LDF candidate, has won the Pala assembly bypoll in Kerala. (Photo Credit: Mani C Kappen’s Facebook Page)
         

Kerala’s ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) registered a big win on Friday as its candidate Mani C Kappan won the by-poll to the Pala constituency, which had sent veteran KM Mani of the Kerala Congress (M) to the assembly for more than five decades.

For the LDF, which suffered a humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections winning just one out of the 20 seats it had contested, it has come as a big relief.

Kappan notched a winning margin of 2,943 votes as he got 54,137 votes and his opponent Jose Tom of the Kerala Congress (Mani) managed 51,195 votes. Kappan is from Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which is an ally of the LDF in Kerala.

The National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) candidate N Hari, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Kottayam district president, was a distant third with 18,044 votes.

Kappan, a former state volleyball player and film producer, maintained a steady lead from the beginning and continued it till the end of counting.

“It is a welcome win. It is a mandate for the state government’s performance. A victory like this will empower us to carry out more people-friendly measures,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said hailing the verdict.

CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said it was a clear signal for the assembly elections due in the southern state in 18 months.

After the defeat of its candidate, a blame game started in the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

“It is nothing but infighting between two groups in the Kerala Congress (M) that led to the defeat. Even on the day of the polling, there was a wordy duel between its leaders,” said Congress leader K Muraleedharan.

Veteran Congress leader and former chief minister Oommen Chandy said the UDF will study the results in detail.

But defeated candidate Tom Jose said the BJP’s “vote transfer” led to his defeat. He said the BJP had managed 25,000-odd votes in the last election but this time its votes were reduced to 18,000.

Pala in Kottayam district fell vacant after the death of veteran Kerala Congress (M) leader KM Mani in March this year. He had held the seat since 1965 till his death and the UDF failed to keep the legacy of the tall leader.

After his death, his son Jose K Mani, a Rajya Sabha member, appointed himself as the chairperson of the party sidelining many leaders, including former minister PJ Joseph.

Later, the party split into two groups and the Election Commission froze its symbol, two leaves.

Despite differences, both groups remained in the UDF at the instance of the Congress. But it was not enough to win elections, as the latest result showed.

First Published: Sep 27, 2019 16:29 IST

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