Kottayam (Ker): The ruling CPI(M) led LDF won the byelection to Pala assembly constituency, wresting the seat from the opposition Congress led UDF. LDF candidate Mani C Kappen defeated Jose Tom Pulikkunel of the opposition Congress-led UDF in a closely contested fight. Kappen, leader of the Nationalist Congress Party, defeated Pulikkunel, a faction leader 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 K M Mani for the last five decades. The bypoll was necessitated due to the demise of Mani in April. The win has come as a huge relief to the LDF after its rout 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 boost to the three major combines prospects in the by-elections to five more assembly constituencies scheduled for October 21.