KOTTAYAM: The LDF can take justifiable pride in its Pala victory and claim it as its increasing popularity but the fact remains that the synthesis of various factors, many of them by default, including an apparent shift in the votes of the SNDP, the infighting in the Kerala Congress, the impartial stand adopted by the Catholic church unlike the subtle message they used extend before the elections in favour of the UDF along with a clutch of localised determinants, led to the historic verdict. And Mani C. Kappen, the winner, was gracious enough to acknowledge many of them without hesitation.
The impartial stand adopted by the Pala diocese following its displeasure over the prolonged infighting between the P.J. Joseph and Jose K. Mani factions and the lukewarm approach by the two sections towards the reconciliation efforts of the bishop resulted in the diocese not giving a proper message in favour of the UDF candidate. The church would have known its support to K.M. Mani in its own way when he was around.
The vote loss of the NDA can partially explain the LDF's surge: it is estimated that Janapaksham of P.C. George, an NDA constituent, supported Mr Kappen in Moonilavu, Melukavu, Thalanadu and Thalapalam panchayaths. The call by SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellapally Natesan in favour of the LDF has helped Mr Kappen consolidate a section of voters which would have otherwise backed the NDA or the UDF. Mr Vellappally's stand is said to be a quid pro quo for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's efforts to get his son and BDJS state president Thushar Vellapally out of trouble after the latter was held in UAE in a bounced cheque case. The BDJS is also a constituent of the NDA.
The fight between the Joseph and Jose K. Mani factions, especially the ill-treatment meted out to its working president P.J. Joseph when he arrived for the UDF convention ahead of the elections was detrimental.
That Maju Puthenkandom, an independent candidate fielded by the anti-quarry struggle committee, bagged 1012 votes must come as a shocker to the UDF as they would have otherwise landed in its kitty. The replacement of the election symbol 'two leaves' with 'pineapple' and the reduced number of votes polled also did not help the incumbent party in the bypoll.