Rare by-poll win: LDF wrests Pala from Congress-led UDF: Kerala

LDF candidate Mani C Kappen defeated Jose Tom Pulikkunel of the opposition Congress-led UDF in a closely contested fight.

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The CPI (M)-led LDF triumphed in Kerala’s Pala constituency, taking over the Assembly seat from the Opposition Congress-led UDF. Mani C Kappan, leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) won with a margin of 2,943 votes defeating his rival Jose Tom Pulikkunel, an independent candidate led by the Congress- led United Democratic Front (UDF).

Kappan received 54,137 votes while Pulikkunel received 51,194 votes. NDA candidate N Hari received only 1,804 votes.

Pala was earlier represented by veteran Kerala Congress leader and former Finance Minister KM Mani for 54 years till his death in April 2019. The last time the LDF witnessed victory in Pala was in 1980 when their candidate was KC(M) founder KM Mani, who had switched over to the LDF in the wake of the political rumbling over the Emergency.

The by-poll victory comes as a huge relief and morale booster to the LDF after its poor show in the national elections. It had won only one of the 20 parliamentary seats (Alapuzha) in the State where the Left had been traditionally strong.

What Analysts Say

Analysts feel that infighting within the Kerala Congress party affected the outcome.

NP Chekutty, a left-leaning political observer, said that the LDF had lost heavily in the Lok Sabha election due to consolidation of minority votes in favour of the UDF over the candidature of former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad. The hasty move by the LDF government to implement the SC verdict on the entry of women between the age of 10 and 50 in the Sabarimala temple also was a factor in their loss, he observed.

“The minorities had rallied behind the Congress believing that it was in a better position to fight the Hindutva forces nationally. However, the decline of the party at the national level has shaken their trust. The result in Pala could be seen as a sign of the minorities swinging back to the LDF, which is politically and ideologically strong to take on the BJP and the RSS,” he said.

J Prabhash, an analyst, said, “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.”

What the Win means for LDF

The results have put the UDF on a backfoot in the wake of the upcoming by-elections in five more assembly constituencies on October 21st.

The by-poll was viewed as an acid test for the LDF, UDF and BJP led NDA as a victory would’ve given these three major combines a boost in the upcoming by-elections.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “The by-poll victory will give strength to the LDF government to carry out its development works, as well as welfare activities more vigorously.”

This surprise win will give the LDF to carry forward its party’s social and economic agenda in the State.



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