Kottayam: CPI(M)-led LDF won the by-election to Pala Assembly constituency defeating the opposition Congress-led UDF.

LDF candidate Mani C Kappen defeated opposition Congress-led UDF's Jose Tom Pulikkunnel in a closely contested fight.

Kappen defeated Pulikkunnel of the Kerala Congress (M) by 2,943 votes. Pala was a bastion of the Congress-led UDF, held by veteran leader and former finance minister KM Mani for the last five decades. The bypoll was necessitated due to the demise of Mani in April.

Also read: Kerala: Pala Assembly constituency voting underway for by-poll

The win has come as a huge relief to the LDF after its defeat in the Lok Sabha polls.

The bypoll was viewed as an acid test for UDF and the BJP-headed NDA as a victory would have given a boost to the prospects of the three major combines in the by-elections to five more Assembly constituencies, scheduled for October 21.

While Kappen's victory is a big morale booster for chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government, the results will put the UDF on the backfoot for the October 21 bypolls.

During the election campaign, Vijayan had said the results would be the people's assessment on the performance of his government, which came to power in 2016.

"The bypoll victory will give strength to the LDF government to carry out its development works, as well as welfare activities more vigorously," he said in a statement.

He thanked the people of Pala for "contributing a spectacular victory" to the LDF.

For the UDF, the rout in its traditional stronghold is a huge setback as it comes less than five months after the Congress-led alliance won 19 out of 20 parliamentary seats in the state in the Lok Sabha polls.

"It is an unexpected defeat. We will study the reasons for it and move forward after rectifying the mistakes," former chief minister Oommen Chandy told reporters.

With PTI inputs