Pala Election Results 2019: Reeling from the humilating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala got a shot in the arm as its nominee pulled off a surprise victory in the bye-election in Pala, a constituency that has been a stronghold of the rival UDF over the last five decades. Mani C Kappan, the NCP leader and LDF nominee, prevailed over Jose Tom, the candidate of the Congress-led UDF, by 2943 votes as BJP candidate N Hari came in the third position. Kappan’s victory marks an end to the dominance of the Kerala Congress (M), an ally of the Congress, in Pala where it wielded influence among Catholic voters. For the last 54 years, late KM Mani, the founder-chief of the KC(M) represented Pala in the Kerala Assembly, holding the record for the longest-serving legislator. In fact, in 2006, 2011 and 2016 elections, Mani had vanquished Kappan on his way to the Assembly.
Jose K Mani, a senior leader of the KC(M) told reporters, after the results, “We accept the mandate of the people. We will examine the reasons for the defeat. Kerala Congress and the UDF will rectify its mistakes and win back confidence of the people. Politics is not about fearing defeat and brimming in confidence in a victory. Where has the BJP’s votes gone? It has gone definitely to the LDF. The UDF is united. Congress has fully supported us.”
The BJP, which had registered an impressive growth in the 2016 elections with nearly 25000 votes, had to be satisified with just 18,044 votes, signalling a deep dent in the saffron party’s vote-share. Both the LDF and UDF camps alleged that BJP votes flowed towards the other.
To read election results in Malayalam: Click here
Read highlights of Kerala Pala Assembly Election Results. Read latest news and updates in Malayalam.
Pala win a morale-booster for the Left
The Pala win is a morale-booster for the Left, which is reeling from a humiliating drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections. The results show that the party has been able to make inroads into the dominant Catholic community and more importantly wrest a seat which ahs traditionally always voted for the UDF. Read more
We accept people's mandate, will rectify mistakes: KC(M) leader Jose K Mani on losing to LDF
Jose K Mani, a senior KC(M) leader and son of KM Mani, conceded defeat and promised that his party will rectify its mistakes.
"We accept the mandate of the people. We will examine the reasons for the defeat. Kerala Congress and the UDF will rectify its mistakes and win back confidence of the people. Politics is not about fearing defeat and brimming in confidence in a victory," Mani said. UDF candidate Jose Tom added, "It is God's will. Victories and defeats are common in an election. I will continue to work for the development of Pala."
For KC(M), Pala is a very important seat that it could not afford to lose. After all, the voters in Pala stood consistently for 54 years in solidarity with KM Mani, its founder-chief. But now, for the first time after the formation of the constituency, Pala has elected a Left-backed MLA.
So here are the final results
The final picture is in. Mani C Kappan of the LDF has registered a close, nail-biting victory over his UDF opponent Jose Tom by 2,943 votes. BJP candidate N Hari came in third.
LDF: 54137 votes
UDF: 51197 votes
NDA: 18044 votes
Jose K Mani of the Kerala Congress (M): We accept people's mandate
Jose K Mani, of the Kerala Congress (M): We accept the mandate of the people. We will examine the reasons for the defeat. Kerala Congress and the UDF will rectify its mistakes and win back confidence of the people. Politics is not about fearing defeat and brimming in confidence in a victory. Where has the BJP's votes gone? It has gone definitely to the LDF. The UDF is united. Congress has fully supported us.
Mani C Kappan of the LDF claims victory
He has a lead of just over 2000 votes, but with just eight booths left to be counted, Mani C Kappan of the LDF came out in front of reporters and claimed victory in Pala. He thanked the Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, leaders of the CPM and other allies for campaigning for him. He also alleged that the BJP entered into a vote-trading deal with the UDF.
Trailing UDF candidate is engaged in talks with Jose K Mani in locked room
Jose Tom, the trailing candidate of the UDF, was all smiles during the initial rounds of counting. But as the gap between him and Mani C Kappan of the LDF widened, he quickly slipped out of the area and has entered to start talks with Jose K Mani, a senior leader of the KC(M).
Scenes of tension outside KM Mani's residence
Tense scenes were witnessed on the road in front of the residence of late KM Mani as LDF supporters celebrated their impending win in the Pala bypoll. Supporters of the Kerala Congress (M) blocked the LDF celebrations for a brief while as police stepped in to quash violence. As of now, the LDF candidate is leading by over 3,000 votes.
CPM leader PA Mohamed Riyas uses word-play on the Pala trends, to good effect!
"Pala is a bridge. It is a bridge to UDF voters who are against the BJP. It is a future bridge for them to the LDF." (PS: The word 'palam' in Malayalam means bridge)
പാലാ ഒരു പാലമാണ് ...— PA Mohamed Riyas (@riyasdyfi) September 27, 2019
കേരളത്തിലെ BJP വിരുദ്ധ മനസ്സുള്ള
ഭാവിയിൽ LDFലേക്കുള്ള പാലം...
For the first time, LDF candidate's lead dips
The LDF candidate Mani C Kappan lead had extended to 4300 votes about half an hour ago. But now with the votes being counted in Mutholi panchayat, his lead has dipped to 3700 votes. For the first time, UDF candidate Jose Tom led in a round of counting.
Trends right now:
LDF: 34603 votes
UDF: 30879 votes
NDA: 11010 votes.
How significant is Pala to the Kerala Congress and the UDF camp? Read our ground report.
In the run-up to the bypoll in Pala, I had taken the bus from Kochi to visit the constituency and examine the mood on the ground. In the course of reporting, I had spoken to different factions of the Kerala Congress, as well as to LDF and NDA leaders. While all three camps expressed optimism of a victory, there were clear indications that all was not well within the UDF camp. I had also written in detail about the legacy of KM Mani, the founder-chief of KC(M) and the influence he had over the voters of Pala. To the extent that the UDF candidate had even officially started his campaign from the graveyard where Mani was buried. Every day during the course of the campaign, KC(M) leaders lit candles and offered flowers at Mani's grave. For a party that has won every election in Pala since 1965, losing the constituency is a big deal. Read all about it here.
Rift within the Kerala Congress (M) seems to have reflected in results
The raging feud within the Kerala Congress (M) between the Jose K Mani and PJ Joseph led factions seems to have reflected deeply in the trends so far in Pala. In all the 8 panchayats counted so far, the KC(M) candidate has trailed behind the LDF candidate. This is unprecedented, considering that these panchayats were all strongholds of the party. During campaigning, there were clear indications that there were differences within the UDF camp and that there was virtually little cohesion between workers of the two factions. That seems to have shown in these trends.
Huge dent in BJP vote-share, where did saffron votes go?
In the 2016 Assembly election, BJP candidate N Hari had registered a whopping 24000 votes, a four-fold gain from its votes in the 2011 election. This was indicative of the BJP's inroads into the Hindu community. But in this bypoll in Pala, it is clear that the BJP will not be able to match its 2016 vote-share. As of trends right now, the BJP candidate has got 8258 votes with just 5 panchayats left for counting. So have the BJP's votes transferred to the LDF? Has the rift between the BDJS and BJP reflected in this dent in vote-share? The gains from Sabarimala has also not reflected in these results.
7/12 panchayats counted so far, LDF leading in all 7 panchayats
These are the trends across the 7 panchayats counted so far.
It's 10:45 am and how do the candidates fare?
Mani C Kappan (LDF): 21721 votes
Jose Tom (UDF): 18428 votes
N Hari (BJP): 6809 votes
Counting in five panchayats on, LDF leading in all
The LDF candidate has been in front right from the time the counting process started. Surprisingly, Mani C Kappan of the LDF has led in all the five panchayats counted so far: Ramapuram, Kadanad, Melukavu, Moonilavu, Thalanad. All of these panchayats had voted overwhelmingly for the UDF candidate in the 2019 LS polls. This is a huge setback for the UDF if it continues to trail. Pala is not just any ordinary seat for the coalition. For the Kerala Congress, the seat holds prime significance as its founder-chief late KM Mani had got elected from Pala for a record 13 times right from 1965. If it goes on to lose Pala, the Kerala Congress will be prone to heavy factional feuds from within.
LDF candidate is galloping away, shocker for UDF
If these trends continue in Pala, it could be sweet revenge for LDF's Mani C Kappan. At the moment, he is leading over the UDF candidate Jose Tom by over 2100 votes. BJP candidate N Hari is in third place.
The LDF has extended its lead to three panchayats - Ramapuram, Kadanad and Melukavu. This is absolutely embarrassing for the Congress-led UDF camp. Pala is considered a stronghold of the coalition, especially of the Kerala Congress (M) where it wields influence over the Catholic voters. If it continues to trail in other panchayats, then it signals that there has been a deep rift in the votes of the KC(M) as a result of the tussle of leadership within the party.
BJP's performance is significant in Pala
Election observers and analysts may not count on the BJP to wrest Pala, but they are unequivocal that the performance of the saffron party will affect the prospects of the LDF and UDF camps. Pala is a Catholic-dominant seat, but last time, in 2016, the BJP registered a four-fold increase in its vote-share, digging deep into the constituency's Hindu vote base. The role played by the BDJS in shoring up Ezhava votes for the BJP was also pointed out last time. As well as it is important for the BJP to retain this vote-share, or even increase it, the LDF and UDF would be hoping to make inroads into the BJP pockets. After polling ended, there were also allegations from the LDF candidate that BJP had traded its votes for the UDF.
LDF leads in panchayat where UDF had big gains in LS polls
Mani C Kappan's leads in Pala have come surprisingly in the Ramapuram panchayat, where the UDF candidate had massive gains in the 2019 LS polls. So this is a reversal of sorts. Ramapuram incidentally is also a place where PJ Joseph, the rebel leader of the Kerala Congress holds influence. So have votes with allegiance to Joseph gone to the LDF camp? Many people think so.
At 9:15 am, how do the candidates stand?
Right, so here are the votes won by each candidate at this time.
Mani C Kappan (LDF): 4263 votes
Jose Tom (UDF): 4101 votes
N Hari (NDA): 1929 votes
First leads are in: LDF's Mani C Kappan in front by 211 votes
Mani C Kappan, the leader of the NCP and the candidate put forward by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Pala, is ahead of UDF candidate Jose Tom in the initial leads. The leads have come in the Ramapuram panchayat. Kappan leads over Jose Tom by 211 votes. That's very good news for the LDF.
This is taking really, really long.
This could be a rare election where the counting of votes in the EVMs have still not begun after an hour. We're being told that there are technical reasons behind the delay. The postal and service votes were counted in the first half-hour. But since then, no real leads of the results have come out yet.
We are waiting.
Slight technical delay in the counting of votes
Ideally, by 8:30 am, we should have gotten the first leads in the Pala bypoll. But we're to understand that there's a technical delay in the counting of votes. The postal votes are being counted first, but it's taking longer than usual. The official Election Commission site has also not updated its leads on who's ahead. According to the unverified leads of the TV channels, the LDF and UDF have six votes each of the postal votes.
Welcome to the live blog!
A very warm good-morning to our readers. If you're in Pala, I'm sure you would be craning your necks to see who's ahead in the heated political contest out there. And we're here to tell you who's ahead.
For those who don't have the context, today is an important day for the voters of Pala constituency in Kerala. Votes will be counted to find out who will represent Pala in the Kerala state assembly. For the longest time, an astounding period of 54 years, Pala was represented by KM Mani, the veteran chief of the Kerala Congress (M), who holds the record of winning 13 elections on the trot. After his death in April this year, the seat fell vacant.
On Monday, the voters of Pala queued up to cast their votes to select their new MLA. The contest is between Jose Tom Pulikkunnel of the UDF, Mani C Kappan of the LDF and N Hari of the NDA.