Mani C. Kappan, the candidate fielded by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) is leading by over 3,200 votes over Jose Tom Pulikkunnel, the UDF candidate, after the fifth round of counting of votes for the Pala Assembly constituency was complete.
The by-election was necessitated following the death of Kerala Congress (M) stalwart K.M. Mani.
LDF extends its lead to three panchayts and Mr. Kappan gallops away by a lead of over 2,100 votes at the end of three rounds.
Mani C Kappan (LDF): 14,017 votes
Jose Tom Pulikkunnel (UDF): 11,840 votes
N. Hari (NDA): 4,173 votes
LDF leads by 2,177 votes
The LDF has raised its lead to 757 votes when counting of votes in the second round was complete.
The LDF candidate Mani C. Kappan has raised his tally of total votes to 8,931 while the UDF candidate Jose Tom Pulikkunnel is trailing behind with 8,174 votes. The two leading candidates are followed by the NDAwith 3,240 votes.
The votes counted in the second round comprised those polled in the booth number 15 to booth number 28 in the Ramapuram and Kadanad Panachayats. Incidentally, the rebel faction of the Kerala Congress(M), led by its working chairman P.J. Joseph, holds a sway in these local bodies.
The unexpected gains made by the Mr. Kappan when counting in the first two rounds were complete, has now raised concerns of a trend reversal for the UDF, which gained significant leads in the region during the previous Lok Sabha election in April 2019.
The surprise gains made by the LDF has also triggered a war of words between the coalition and its nearest rival UDF, which are accusing each other of purchasing votes from the BJP.
The counting of votes in the first round comprised votes polled in the first 14 booths of the Ramapuram Panchayat. While Mr. Kappan garnered a total of 4,263 votes, Mr. Pulikkunnel was trailing behind with 4,101 votes. N. Hari, the candidate fielded by the National Democratic Alliance, stood at the third position with just 1,929 votes.
The lead registered by the LDF in Ramapuram, regarded as a UDF bastion, has come as a shocker to the Congress-led coalition, which is hopeful of winning this high-stakes battle by a margin of 25,000 votes.
The counting of votes began at 8 a.m. with the verification of the postal and service votes. The counting of votes polled in the EVMs, meanwhile, was delayed by about 30 minutes due to unspecified technical reasons.