In the closest electoral battle Kerala has seen in recent decades, the Congress-led United Democratic Front has scraped past the Left Democratic Front in the 2011 Assembly elections. In the House of 140, the UDF bagged 72 seats, four more than the LDF led by the Communist Party if India (Marxist).
The Congress Legislature Party is expected to meet early next week, where a decision on the possible choice of Oommen Chandy to lead the new government is expected to be taken. Mr. Chandy had gone out as Chief Minister following the 2006 elections in which the LDF won a two-thirds majority. The UDF had scored massive wins in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the 2010 local body elections, but has now had to satisfy itself with a modest win.
In the nine-party UDF, the Congress has won 38 seats, the Indian Union Muslim League 20, the Kerala Congress (M) nine, the Socialist Janata (Democratic) two, and the Kerala Congress (B), the Kerala Congress (Jacob) and the RSP (Bolshevik) one each.
The CPI(M), heading the seven-party LDF, is the single largest party with 45 seats in the House. The CPI has won 13 seats, the Janata Dal (Secular) four and the RSP, the Nationalist Congress Party and LDF-backed independents two each. In the outgoing House, the LDF had 98 seats to the UDF's 42.
This was a cliffhanger of an election that could have gone either way, and there were indeed moments during the counting on Friday when a dead heat seemed certain. By giving the UDF the marginal victory, the State has stuck to a three-and-a-half decade old pattern of choosing a new coalition to run the government once every five years.
The LDF put up a strong showing despite the defeat, thanks to the absence of an anti-incumbency mood among the electorate, and a turn in the tide in its favour in the final lap on account of the ‘VS factor' — the presence of Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan at the helm of the LDF campaign.
The BJP's hopes of opening its account in the Assembly were again dashed, but it put up a notable showing in Nemom in the south and Kasaragod and Manjeswaram in the north.