The CPM-led LDF triumphed in Kerala's Pala constituency, taking over the Assembly seat from the Opposition Congress-led UDF. In a close electoral fight, LDF candidate Mani C Kappan emerged victorious, defeating Congress-led UDF's Jose Tom Pulikkunnel.
Kappan, leader of the Nationalist Congress Party, defeated Pulikkunnel — a faction leader of the Kerala Congress (M) — by 2,943 votes. Pala was a bastion of the Congress-led UDF, held by veteran leader and former finance minister KM Mani for the last five decades.
Kappan received 54,137 votes while his nearest rival Jose Tom of UDF got 51,194 votes. NDA candidate N Hari received only 1,804 votes.
The Assembly seat, which fell vacant after Kerala Congress veteran KM Mani passed away in April, recorded 71.41 percent voter turnout and had 13 candidates in the fray.
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 test for UDF and the BJP headed NDA as a victory would have given a boost to the prospects of the three major combines ahead the by-elections to five more Assembly constituencies, scheduled for 21 October.
While Kappan's victory is a big morale booster for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government, the results will put the UDF on the back foot for the upcoming bypolls.
During the election campaign, Vijayan had said the results would be based on the people's assessment on the performance of his government, which came to power in 2016. "The bypoll victory will give strength to the LDF government to carry out its development works, as well as welfare activities more vigorously," he said in a statement.
He thanked the people of Pala for "contributing a spectacular victory" to the LDF. For the UDF, the loss in its traditional stronghold is a huge setback as it comes less than five months after the Congress-led alliance won 19 out of 20 parliamentary seats in the state in the Lok Sabha polls.
"It is an unexpected defeat. We will study the reasons for it and move forward after rectifying the mistakes," former chief minister Oommen Chandy told reporters.
The Left leaders said the bypoll win would invigorate its workers and the momentum would be carried forward to the by-elections to five other Assembly constituencies.
The BJP also suffered a huge blow in the byelection as its candidate N Hari, who had secured over 24,000 votes in the 2016 Assembly poll from the constituency, secured only 18,044 votes.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Sep 27, 2019 18:53:49 IST