September 28, 2019 3:59:58 am
The ruling LDF won the bypoll for the Pala Assembly seat on Friday, ending the five-decade supremacy of the Kerala Congress (M) in the constituency. Over 71 per cent voters had registered their ballot in the bypoll, conducted on September 23, which was necessitated following the death of sitting legislator K M Mani — the founder-chief of the Kerala Congress (M) — in April. Mani had held the seat uninterruptedly for 54 years till his death.
Mani C Kappan of the NCP – an ally of the CPI(M) in Kerala – defeated Mani loyalist Jose Tom, who had to fight the election as an Independent candidate after party chairman P J Joseph refused to allot him the party’s official symbol. BJP candidate N Hari came third. Kappan told reporters, “This is a victory of the LDF. This is an approval of the LDF government’s policies and development projects.”
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the mandate is a recognition for the government and its pro-people policies.
Senior Kerala Congress (M) leader Jose K Mani — the son of K M Mani — 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 (M) 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,” he said.
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Congress state president Mullappally Ramachandran attributed the victory of the LDF to the internal problems within the Kerala Congress (M) — the party is currently locked in a factional feud between Jose K Mani and party chairman Joseph. The defeat in its stronghold is likely to trigger a fresh spell of internal squabbling in the party, which is a prominent ally of Congress in central Kerala.
The BJP, meanwhile, has suffered a big dent in its vote-share. The saffron party, which surprised many by getting over 24,000 votes in the 2016 Assembly election, lost nearly 6,500 votes in the bypolls.
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