On expected lines, IUML strongman and sitting legislator PK Kunhalikutty got off to an early lead as counting of votes began at the Malappuram Lok Sabha seat on Monday.
Kunhalikutty was leading with over 13,000 votes as counting began at 8 am here.
The total turnout at Malappuram by-election on April 12, was 71.33 per cent.
In second place was Communist Party of India-Marxist's local body member and youth leader M.B. Faizal, while the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate N. Sreeprakash was a distant third.
The re-poll was necessitated after the death of sitting MP and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader E Ahamed.
Malappuram district is the citadel of the IUML and Ahamed won the 2014 polls with a record margin of 1.94 lakh votes.
But during the 2016 assembly elections, the margin of the IUML legislators, who won in all the seven assembly constituencies, came down to 1.18 lakh votes.
The outcome of the poll could well be the first indicator on how well the 10-month-old Pinarayi Vijayan government has functioned.