Kottayam: The by-election for the Pala Legislative Assembly constituency will be held on September 23, the Election Commission of India announced in New Delhi on Sunday.
The seat had become vacant after the demise of Kerala Congress (M) supremo KM Mani. The former Kerala Finance Minister, KM Mani had represented the Pala constituency since its formation in 1965 and until his death on April 9 earlier this year.
Along with Pala, by-polls will be held for the Hamirpur seat in Uttar Pradesh, Dantewada in Chhattisgarh and Bhadarghat in Tripura on September 23. The counting of votes will be held on September 27.
Nominations can be submitted from August 28 till September 4. The scrutiny of the nominations will be held on September 4. The last date for withdrawing nominations has been scheduled for September 7.
With the announcement of the election schedule, a model code of conduct has come in effect in these constituencies.
Will factional fued within Kerala Congress (M) continue?
The factional feud within the Kerala Congress (M) party was out in the open after its supremo KM Mani's death, with one faction led by Mani’s son Jose K Mani and the other by working chairman PJ Joseph parting ways.
It is now a matter of honour for both the factions to win back the Pala seat. Even the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) camps are keenly following the developments in the Kerala Congress (M). Despite KM Mani contesting the seat last time, they were only able to win by a few seats.
Kerala Congress (M) Chairman Jose K Mani said that the party leaders would be meeting soon to discuss who will contest the election. The biggest challenge faced by the UDF would be to reach a consensus with both the warring factions of the Kerala Congress (M). But in some relief for the opposition front, P J Joseph had hinted at reconciliation the other day.
Veteran Kerala Congress (M) leader PJ Joseph said the the party's aim will be to win the upcoming Pala bypoll election at all cost. He informed that the party has tasked him with the selection and that a decision will be made in 3-4 days. He said that the party will be doing a thorough study of how the past three elections have transpired here.
Not the only seats
Vattiyoorkavu, Aroor, Ernakulam and Konni seats too have become vacant as the MLAs representing them resigned after they won the Lok Sabha elections, with those results out in late May this year. The fifth vacancy is of the Manjeswaram assembly seat. PB Abdul Razak, the IUML MLA who represented this seat, had died last October.
Though his victory was disputed in the court by BJP candidate K Surendran, he withdrew the petition in June this year. (Surendran had finished a close second in Manjeswaram in the 2016 assembly election.) Though Razak had pre-deceased Mani, strangely, the EC has not announced a by-poll here.
CPM State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan lashed out at the Commission for turning a blind eye to the by-election in Manjeswaram. Usually, and by law, all the vacant seats must be filled. He expressed his concerns as to whether the Commission is getting mixed up in politics. Kodiyeri asserted that the party, having left their Sabarimala woes behind, is ready to give a tough fight. The party leadership will be meeting to decide who will contest the election.
As per the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the EC has to fill the vacancies in the Houses of Parliament and State Legislatures through by-elections within six months from the date of occurrence of the vacancy.