New Delhi: The ruling CPI(M) led LDF won the byelection to Pala assembly constituency by defeating the opposition Congress led UDF. LDF candidate Mani C Kappen, who is from Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) defeated Jose Tom Pulikkunel of the opposition Congress-led UDF by 2943 votes. Notably, NCP is an ally of the LDF in Kerala.

The bypoll was viewed as an acid test for UDF and the BJP headed NDA as a victory would have given boost to the three major combines prospects in the by-elections to five more assembly constituencies scheduled for October 21.

After emerging victorious, Kappen spoke to reporters and thanked the Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, leaders of the CPM and other allies for supporting him.

Conceding defeat, the UDF candidate said that they will introspect the reason for the loss. “Kerala Congress and the UDF will rectify its mistakes and win back confidence of the people”, leading daily Indian Express quoted the UDF leader as saying.

Taking to Twitter, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury congratulated the winner. “Congratulations, Pala! For the first time in 54 years, we are humbled and grateful that the people have reposed their trust in the Left here”, tweeted the CPI(M) leader.

Pala was a bastion of the Congress-led UDF, held by veteran leader and former Finance Minister K M Mani for the last five decades. After the demise of KC(M) chief Mani, the party got split between Mani’s son Jose K Mani and a splinter faction led by senior leader PJ Joseph. Both the factions have accused each other of a hostile takeover of the party.

Pala Assembly constituency went to polls on Sept 23. An estimated voter turnout of 71.43 per cent was recorded in the bypolls. “Of the total 179,107 voters, 127,939 people cast their votes. Of these 65,203 were males and 62,736 were females. 74.32% of the men voted and 68.65% of the women voted,”a press release from Kerala Information and Public Relations department had said.