The Pala Assembly bye-election in Kerala is scheduled to take place on Monday (September 23), along with three other seats in Chhattisgarh, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh each. The number and name of the assembly Constituency are 93-Pala. The counting of votes will be held on Friday (September 27).
The by-election was necessitated by the death of Kerala Congress-Mani founder KM Mani in April, who represented the constituency since 1967. Mani first won in 1965, but since no political front could cobble up a majority no government assumed office and the state was under President`s rule till fresh elections were held in 1967. Whoever wins the bye-election will go into the record books as this would be the first time since 1965 that there will be a new winner.
The seat is going unto election with trouble in the Kerala Congress-Mani, the third-largest party in the Congress-led United Democratic Front. After the death of Mani, a power struggle between veteran party legislator PJ Joseph -- the working chairman of the party -- and Mani`s son Jose K Mani for the post of party Chairman led to total confusion.
Joseph widened the rift by filing his nomination from the seat, even as the party had already announced its candidate--Jose Tom Pulikunnel. Despite numerous interventions from the top UDF leadership, Joseph did not allot the two leaves party symbol of the party to its candidate Pulikunnel, one of the closest aides of Mani. With Joseph refusing to issue a letter nominating Pulikunnel as the party candidate, he had to file his papers as an independent candidate and had to opt for the 'pineapple' as his symbol.
Taking on Pulikunnel and hoping to exploit the differences between Joseph and Jose K Mani, is local NCP leader and film producer, Mani C Kappen, contesting for the fourth consecutive term, who is aligned with the Left. The BJP-led NDA`s candidate is Kottayam district BJP president N Hari, who was the BJP candidate in the 2016 assembly polls too.
The Left is leaving nothing to chance as the recent Lok Sabha election saw the Left getting badly mauled by the UDF when it could win just one seat out of the 20 seats in Kerala. It is hopeful as Kappen has been able to bring down the lead that Mani had to as low as 4,703 votes.
The Election Commission (EC) has decided to use EVMs and VVPATs in the bye-election in all the polling stations. Adequate numbers of EVMs and VVPATs have been made available and all steps have been taken to ensure that the polls are conducted smoothly with the help of these machines.
The Model code of conduct is already in effect and is applicable to all candidates, political parties, the state government concerned and the Centre.