Will Mani C.Kappen replace K.M.Mani in Kerala's Pala Assembly seat?

Kottayam: There is a likelihood of Mani C.Kappen replacing K.M.Mani in Kerala's Pala Assembly constituency going by the trends emerging from the ongoing counting of votes for the bypoll.

Nearly half-way now, the voting trends on Friday showed Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate Kappen, who is also backed by the Left Democratic Front (LDF), maintaining a consistent lead of over 4,000 votes on the United Democratic Front's (UDF) Jose Tom Pullikunnel.

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 over five decades.

Surrounded by supporters at his home, a beaming Kappen said he was certain of his win and was on his way to create history. "The trends are as expected and the political slavery of Pala of 52 years is about to end. Everyone is wanting for a change," said Kappen.

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.

Sitting at the residence of late Mani, a dejected Pullikunnel said, "the thief is inside our ship" indicating that he failed to get votes from the areas he expected to.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Kottayam BJP head N. Hari as its candidate. Of the total 1,79,107 electorate, 1,27,939 cast their vote on Monday to decide the fate of 13 candidates. The votes would be counted in 14 rounds.

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