In Kerala's Pala, the outcome is expected to be a litmus test for the ruling CPM-led LDF. The Assembly seat, which fell vacant after Kerala Congress veteran KM Mani passed away in April, recorded a voting percentage of 71.41.
Counting began early on Friday for Kerala's Pala Assembly bypoll and early trends showed Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate Mani C.Kappen, who is also backed by the Left Democratic Front (LDF), ahead of the United Democratic Front's (UDF) Jose Tom Pullikunnel. According to Indian Express, the LDF candidate Mani C Kappan lead had extended to 4300 votes about half an hour ago. But now with the votes being counted in Mutholi panchayat, his lead has dipped to 3700 votes. For the first time, UDF candidate Jose Tom led in a round of counting. While the BJP's candidate is in third place. The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Kottayam BJP head N. Hari as its candidate.
The Assembly bypoll was necessitated by the death of sitting legislator and Kerala Congress (Mani) chief K.M.Mani in April. Mani had represented Pala since 1965 and the constituency will see a new MLA after a gap of 54 years. Kerala Congress (Mani) is the third biggest ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front and had named Pullikunnel as its candidate. However, differences within the party led Pullikunnel to opt out and contest as an 'Independent' supported by the UDF.
(Inputs from Agencies)