Pala: Polling in the much anticipated byelection in the Pala Assembly constituency ended at 6pm on Monday. According to latest reports, 71.48% polling was reported in the election which was necessitated due to the death of former Finance Minister and Kerala Congress (M) leader K M Mani. Mani had held the constituency for more than five decades.
The final polling percentage is yet to be announced. The polling percentage in Pala for the last Assembly elections and Lok Sabha elections were 77.25 per cent and 72.68 per cent respectively.
As many as 13 candidates were in the fray in the constituency having a total of 1,79,107 voters. Of the total voters, 87,729 are males and 91,378 are females. Eighty-nine overseas voters too were eligible to cast their ballots. Counting of votes will be held on September 27, Friday.
Since beginning of the polling at 7am, people were flocking to the 176 booths set up in the constituency. Though rain lashed Pala in the evening, the people were seen going to the booths to exercise their right.
UDF candidate Jose Tom Pulikkunnel, LDF candidate Mani C Kappan, and late Kerala Congress (M) leader K M Mani's wife Kuttiyamma cast their votes at various booths in the early hours of polling. Kappen and Jose Tom cast their votes at the Government Polytechnic School, Kanattupara, and Government LP School, Poovathode, respectively.
There are no untoward incidents in the constituency, the Election Commission said.
Both the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala are keenly contesting the bypoll. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is also in the fray, making it a triangular contest.
Mani, who had represented the constituency for over 50 years, died on April 9 due to age-related ailments.
UDF candidate Jose Tom is reportedly facing stiff resistance from the LDF rival Mani C Kappan. The former has been fielded by the Jose K Mani camp of the Kerala Congress (Mani). Kappan, a nominee of the Nationalist Congress Party, is testing his luck for the fourth time in Pala on an LDF ticket. The NDA candidate is BJP's Kottayam district president N Hari.
The results are expected to have a bearing on the future course of three major political fronts - LDF, UDF and BJP-led NDA - in the southern state.
The Pala Assembly bypoll is seen as an acid test for the parties as victory would give a big boost to their prospects in the byelections to five constituencies scheduled for October 21 in the state.
During the bitter poll campaign, various issues including corruption, economic slowdown, crisis in the farm sector and Sabarimala temple women entry issue were raised by the parties.
While the LDF leaders raised the irregularities in construction of the flyover in Palarivattom in Kochi during the UDF rule, the UDF leaders alleged corruption in setting up infrastructure in the state using funds from Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).
Both the ruling LDF and the opposition UDF were confident of winning the bypoll.