Kerala's Pala Assembly constituency goes for a bypoll on Monday. The bypoll was necessitated by the death of its legislator K.M.Mani in April.
K.M.Mani, chief of Kerala Congress (Mani), the third biggest ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), had represented Pala since 1965, when the constituency was formed. He last won Assembly elections in 2016.
On the eve of polling on Saturday, traditional rivals -- the CPI-M and the Congress -- were accusing each other of having targetted 'Mani Sir', as the former MLA was respectfully called.
Former chief minister Oommen Chandy, who is leading the UDF campaign, said: "Everyone in Pala knows how Mani Sir was haunted by the Left when he was a Minister and when he was in the opposition in recent years. The people of Pala know Mani Sir well and they will do their job, when they reach the polling booths."
CPI-M state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan hit back saying people wouldn't have forgotten how Mani Sir was implicated in the bar scam during Chandy's tenure (between 2011-16).
"The Congress never gave him any respect. When Congress minister K.Babu got a life term in the bar scam, Mani Sir was forced to quit as Finance minister. The people of Pala cannot forget this either," said Balakrishnan.
Though Kerala Congress (Mani) had announced one of Mani's closest aides Jose Tom Pulikunnel as its candidate long ago, Pulikunnel withdrew from the contest following a rift between former party chief's son Jose K.Mani and its Working Chairman P.J.Joseph over the party chairman's post. He is now contesting as an independent.
The BJP-led NDA has fielded Kottayam district BJP President N. Hari as its candidate, while film producer and NCP candidate Mani C. Kappen is supported by the Left.
Kappen on Saturday pointed out that there was a secret pact between the UDF and the BJP. However, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala hit back saying it was very clear that the Left has given up the fight in the election and has taken anticipatory bail even before the polling takes place.