Left Democratic Front candidate Mani C Kappan won the bye-election in the Pala Assembly constituency in Kerala’s Kottayam district on Friday. The bye-poll was necessitated after the death of Kerala Congress (M) leader and former state Finance Minister KM Mani in April. He held the seat for more than 52 years.

Kappan had thrice contested unsuccessfully in Pala against Mani, according to NDTV. The Nationalist Congress Party leader received 54,137 votes, defeating United Democratic Front candidate Jose Tom Pulikkunnel by 2,943 votes, PTI reported. The National Democratic Alliance candidate, N Hari, received only 18,044 votes to finish third.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury congratulated Kappan for his victory. “Congratulations, Pala,” he tweeted. “For the first time in 54 years, we are humbled and grateful that the people have reposed their trust in the Left here.”

The win came as a huge relief to the Left, which won only one of the 20 parliamentary seats during the Lok Sabha elections in May.