Analysis | How Pala embraced the Left this time

How Pala embraced the Left this time
Kappan, an NCP candidate, also got advantage of a sense of sympathy among voters, who sought to give him a chance after three consecutive losses.
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For the first time in Pala constituency's history, it has elected a candidate other than K M Mani.

LDF candidate Mani C Kappan wrested the UDF bastion by outwitting it in nine panchayats, leaving the KC(M) clueless on its fate post the K M Mani era.

Except three panchayats and Pala municipality, Kappan overcame the anti-incumbency mood.

He also negated a perceived sympathy wave factor with deft manoeuvres, much akin to his erstwhile stint as a volleyball-player. The shift of power from Mani to Mani and Right to Left would have an impact on the future prospects of Kerala Congress (M) and the Jose-Joseph power tussle.

The Joseph-factor

The major factor at play in Pala election was, without a doubt, the factional feud within the UDF ally. KC(M) had been walking on a tight rope ever since Mani's demise in April. The tug of war between veteran KC(M) leader P J Joseph and K M Mani's son and Rajya Sabha MP Jose K Mani took a toll on the party. The divide was evident throughout Jose Tom Pulikkunnel's election campaign. The constant booing of Joseph during election campaign irked both the Joseph-faction and neutral Congress workers.

Choosing Jose Tom, who is not a familiar face in Pala town, was a gamble by the Jose K Mani faction. Projecting Jose Tom as an alternative for K M Mani was not an option and UDF knew it from the beginning.

The UDF sought to convert the voters' gratitude to Mani as votes for Jose Tom. A deliberate act by Joseph also ensured that Jose Tom did not get the party's prided symbol, two leaves. And with that, the schism within the party was out in open.

How Pala embraced the Left this time
Choosing Jose Tom, who is not a familiar face in Pala town, was a gamble by the Jose K Mani faction.

Vacillating voters were left with the obvious option of pressing the button in favour of the candidate whose name appears on top in the EVM. And that was Mani C Kappan.

Bereft of party symbol, Jose Tom had the disadvantage of being 7th on the ECM.

Though Joseph eased his stand as the polling day neared, his loyalists refused to budge.

Heavy rains also affected voting in the first half of the polling day.

Many KC(M) voters chose to stay away from the booths, while miffed Congress workers made up their mind to teach the Jose K Mani-faction a pricey lesson.

Jose K Mani's political future

For Jose K Mani, Jose Tom's victory was crucial to prove his stature after the K M Mani era.

Pala will no longer be pivotal to the party as the focus would now shift to its next bastion – Joseph's Thodupuzha.

How Pala embraced the Left this time
KC(M) leaders Jose K Mani and PJ Joseph

Fielding a proxy as a candidate has cost Jose K Mani dearly.

Without a deliberate effort from Jose K Mani's side to mend fences with many KC M) leaders, the party's citadel would most likely be shifted out from K M Mani's Karingozhakkal house.

Why LDF can't take credit

The LDF never had many takers in Pala, except in colleges. Though it has finally wrested the constituency from UDF, Pala cannot still be counted as a Left leaning political terrain.

Kappan, an NCP candidate, also got advantage of a sense of sympathy among voters, who sought to give him a chance after three consecutive losses.

Kappan, however, was not keen on promoting the 'renaissance' concept his political front has been flaunting.

Choosing Jose Tom, who is not a familiar face in Pala town, was a  gamble by the Jose K Mani faction.
LDF celebration in Pala town after Mani C Kappan secured a clear majority.

The LDF leaders who campaigned for Kappan also resorted to focus more on the bordering villages and suburbs than the heart of Pala to reiterate their stand on sensitive topics including Sabarimala.

The affection towards Kappan's family also reflected in Kappan's margin, especially from the Pala municipality.

UDF bastions like Ramapuram crumbled in the wake of factional feuds and local issues.

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