- Kerala Left Democratic Front's (LDF) Mani C Kappan won from Pala
- Pala seat was represented by KM Mani for decades
- Pala assembly bypoll was necessitated after KM Mani's death in April
The Left in Kerala has snatched a big win in an assembly constituency where the Kerala Congress (M), represented by KM Mani, had been in power for decades - with an exception in 1980 when Mr Mani contested as a Left Democratic Front (LDF) ally and won, until he left the alliance two years later.
The LDF's Mani C Kappan, after losing thrice in the past to Mr Mani, returned this time to wrest Pala constituency by over 2,000 votes from his rival of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in the assembly by-election held on Monday.
Mr Kappan is from Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which is an ally of the LDF in Kerala.
Mr Mani won from Pala 13 times since 1965, which made him the longest serving legislator in Kerala. He died in April this year at 86, which necessitated the Pala assembly bypoll.
This bypoll victory comes as a morale booster for the LDF after its poor show in the national election held in April and May, when it won only one of the 20 parliamentary seats in the southern state, where the Left has been traditionally strong.
In a tweet, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury congratulated the LDF's Pala winner.
In the national election this year, the Left alliance won only from Alapuzha by some 10,000 votes. It faced embarrassment as its traditional bastions - Alathur, Palakkad, Attingal and Kasaragod - were wrested by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
The embarrassment this time is strong, however, for the UDF, which had to deal with open infighting between factions of the Kerala Congress (M), leading to their Pala candidate Jose Tom Pullikunel contesting as an independent - without the party's symbol.
The BJP fielded its Kottayam president, N Hari.
KM Mani had also served as Kerala finance minister in the UDF government. He holds the record of presenting the maximum number of budgets in Kerala assembly at 13.
He was forced to quit as finance minister from the Oommen Chandy-led government in November 2015 after the Kerala High Court's observations against him in a bribery case, casting a shadow over his career.