Mudavadi dilemma Updated 14 hr(s) 48 min(s) ago Related Stories Supporters celebrate Khalwale victory Ikolomani campaigns Voters at Malinya Primary School polling station in Ikolomani constituency, Kakamega County, cast their votes on Monday By-elections a litmus test for ODM, PNU Will Khalwale survive ODM onslaught in Ikolomani? Eye on Ikolomani - what will influent results? By Allan Kisia and Joel Okwayo ODM bigwigs fought to make a statement on who commands political tide in western Kenya through Ikolomani by-election but ironically it turned out to be a statement on the Orange party itself. Not only did it expose what pundits claim to be Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadis slackening grip on the political tide in the region, but also exposed dilemma the Sabatia MP will be grappling with as he weighs his options. ODM bigwigs fought to make a statement on who commands political tide in western Kenya through Ikolomani by-election but ironically it turned out to be a statement on the Orange party itself. Not only did it expose what pundits claim to be Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadis slackening grip on the political tide in the region, but also exposed dilemma the Sabatia MP will be grappling with as he weighs his options ahead of the General Election. Like in most previous by-elections, the outcome favoured, not a party like Orange Democratic Movement, which enjoys a national outlook but New Ford-Kenya that rides on the crest of regional popularity. Though the seat was not ODMs, party leader Raila Odinga pitched camp in Ikolomani where Mudavadi was commanding ground troops. Both declared the outcome would show the party was still the one to beat. Had the by-election gone Raila-Mudavadi way, pundits would easily have argued it was a vote of confidence on ODM. But because it did not, with the Orange candidate trailing Dr Bonny Khalwale by 2,500 votes, the opposite could be said to be true. The big question now is if Mudavadi would succumb to local pressure to walk out of Railas shadows and run for president himself, or cling to the Prime Minister and risk paying the political price next year, which would be loss of his place on the regions political ladder. The rallying call in Western after all is now turning to be fatigue with running mates, which is equated to playing second fiddle to outsiders. President Kibaki had the late Kijana Wamalwa in 2002, as his running mate, and Mudavadi paired up with Raila in 2007. In 2007, the then Vice-President Moody Awori, who Kibaki picked to succeed Wamalwa after he died, did claim in his campaigns he was Kibakis running mate. Inquiries within the Western political camp reveals Ikolomani loss has brought to fore simmering divisions in ODM ahead its grassroots election due next week unless it is postponed again for the fourth time. It also emerged ODM went into the by-election knowing well its chances of winning were slim, a secret the leaders would not let out at the political rostrum. A poll the party conducted at the beginning of campaigns indicated ODM candidate Benard Shinali was trailing Khalwale. For sometime, some party members felt ODM should support Khalwale, because of a promise the MP-elect made that he would work with ODM. However the complication, sources reveal, was that Raila insisted he should then defect to ODM, which a section of Western MPs resisted. ODM insiders told The Standard some party officials were driven by a feeling that if Khalwale were floored in the by-election, it would create room for them in the race for county Senate and governorship, next year. Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito allegedly pushed this argument. Mudavadi on the other hand worried about what would happen to ODM supporters if the party did not field a candidate or when they are asked to support Khalwale whom they believe stole their victory in 2007. Mudavadi, it is reported, also felt the party risked disintegrating with supporters scattering to other parties. However, Raila and Mudavadi agreed ODM moves into Ikolomani, in spite of slim chances of winning, with the objective of reactivating their partys political base and giving Khalwale and his backers a run for their money. This was not to happen as Khalwale went ahead and floored Shinali in the Monday by-election. ODM lost the seat to New Ford- Kenya in a region it considers its stronghold. It has 19 of the 24 MPs. Some MPs have, however, come out to say the defeat was not a blow to ODM as the seat initially belonged to New Ford-Kenya. Kizito, who was in the frontline campaigning for Shinali argues they lost the seat because of party wrangling. Kizito claimed a scheme was hatched to portray Mudavadi as a weak politician who could not consolidate the Luyha vote. Speaking in Kakamega town, Kizito claimed two ODM ministers backed Khalwale and kept off the party campaigns. "How could we have won if some ministers in ODM were supporting Khalwale?" he asked. "Some top figures in the Prime Ministers office also funded the campaigns of New Ford- Kenya," claimed Kizito. He continued: "They wanted to portray Mudavadi as a politician who cannot consolidate the Western vote. We will not allow the trend as Mudavadi can as well stand on his own for the top seat." Mudavadi could not be reached on phone for comment but his spokesman, Kibisu Kabatesi, however termed Kizitos allegations as "incorrect". He said the initial problem was whether the party was to field a candidate. "This is just a blame-game. Kizito pushed very hard for it to appear like he is the one who delivered the seat and thereby boost his ambitions to become governor of Kakamega County," added Kabatesi. Kabatesi said Kizito is also fighting Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya, who is also said to be eying the governors seat in Kakamega County. Kizito claimed that some people in the party financed Khalwale due to their close relationship with him in Parliament. Over 60 ODM councillors from the four counties in Western campaigned for Khalwale while some MPs and ministers kept off. Some ODM MPs who did not appear in Ikolomani include Nambale MP Chris Okemo, Khwisero legislator Evans Akula, and his Mumias counterpart Ben Washiali. Matungu MP David Were appeared in Ikolomani the day Raila commissioned the Sigalagala-Butere-Sidindi Road. Were is also the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport. On Wednesday, Kizito said ministers and senior officers in Railas office who supported Khalwales campaigns should be censured. "How could a polling centre like Shivagala record a zero vote for the ODM candidate yet the agents were there? It means the location branch chairman and his office never voted or they voted against the party candidate," said Kizito. Assistant Minister George Khaniri differed with Kizito and said a strong ODM team hit the ground in Ikolomani to campaign for Shinali. "Those who did not campaign for ODM were discouraged by their individual closeness to Khalwale and not because they were fighting Mudavadi," he argued. Khaniri said the matter should not be blown out of proportion arguing that the decision of Ikolomani people should be respected. "It is amazing how people are linking Ikolomani poll to the 2012 General Election and the Deputy Prime Minister," he added. Housing Minister Soita Shitanda, who is New Ford-Kenya leader while on a campaign trail, said his party would field a presidential candidate next year because of reluctance of senior politicians from the region to declare they would be running. Shitanda said Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa, with whom he campaigned for Khalwale, would be going for the top seat on a New Ford-Kenya ticket because the community must try and win the presidency. This is the position that has been taken by Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo, who also backed Khalwale, and believes Western should stop being the fountain of running mates for presidential candidates. Former Cabinet Minister Amukowa Anangwe also confirmed claims some MPs were eying seats in counties, and were unwilling to attack Khalwale directly during the campaigns.