Kottayam (Ker): Voting in the by-election to the Pala Assembly constituency here began on Monday with nearly 24 per cent votes being cast by 11 a.m. As many as 13 candidates are in the fray in the constituency having a total of 1,79,107 voters. “At 11 a.m, 24.14 per cent votes have been cast. Till now, there are no untoward incidents in the constituency. Polling is going on smoothly,” an Election Commission official from Kottayam district told PTI. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra Singh The by-election was necessitated due to the death of former Finance Minister and Kerala Congress (M) leader K M Mani, who hadheld the constituency for more than five decades. While the ruling LDF has fielded it’s ally, NCP’s leader, Mani C Kappen as its candidate in the constituency, Jose Tom Pulikkunnel of Kerala Congress is the candidate of Congress-led UDF. BJP’s Kottayam district president N Hari is the NDA candidate. Among those who voted in the first couple of hours include the UDF candidate Pulikkunnel, LDF candidate Kappen and the family members of Mani, including his wife and son Jose K Mani, a Rajya Sabha member. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroad Kappen and Pulikkunnel cast their votes at the Government Polytechnic School, Kanattupara, and Government LP School, Poovathode, respectively. The results are expected to have a bearing on the future course of three major political fronts–LDF, UDF and BJP-led NDA– in the southern state. The Pala Assembly bypoll is seen as an acid test for the parties as victory would give a big boost to their prospects in the by-elections to five constituencies scheduled for October 21 in the state. The by-poll which started at 7 a.m will conclude at 6 p.m. During the bitter poll campaign, various issues including corruption, economic slowdown, crisis in the farm sector and Sabarimala temple women entry issue were raised by the parties. While the LDF leaders raised the irregularities in construction of the flyover in Palarivattom in Kochi during the UDF rule, the UDF leaders alleged corruption in setting up infrastructure in the state using funds from Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). Both the ruling LDF and the opposition UDF were confident of winning the bypoll.