Kerala polls: Rival fronts await results with bated breath

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Thiruvananthapuram, May 11: An air of expectancy and anxiety is pervading the ruling LDF and the opposition UDF camps in Kerala as just two days are left for counting of votes of last month's Assembly polls which saw the rivals in a neck-and-neck fight.

Will the state live up to its penchant for change every alternate five years by giving the mandate to the Congress-led UDF, or the CPI (M)-headed LDF under chief minister V S Achuthanandan buck the trend securing a second term ? This is the question that dominates the state even as the exit polls have made conflicting predictions.

All the post-poll surveys, however, forecast that the seat difference would be narrow this time, whichever combination romps home.

The LDF swept the polls in 2006 lifting 98 seats in the 140-member House, which was almost the reversal of the 2001 tally. The voter turn out this time was slightly higher at 75.12 per cent from 72.38 per cent in 2001. The rival coalitions have alternated in power since 1982.

Until the state got into the election mode by the turn of the year, it was widely felt that the UDF would have a smooth sailing going by its splendid performance in 2009 Lok Sabha polls and multi-tier local body elections last year.

But a combination of issues and emergence of 87-year-old V S Achuthanandan on the poll scene altered the scenario giving a good chance for the LDF to fight back and even take the battle to the rival's camp towards the close of the campaign.

The signals from the grounds before the voting was that the LDF had been able to put up a united fight putting behind, at least for time being, the bickering in the CPI(M) state unit, which marred the image of the government during much of its term in office.

But, the UDF leaders have refused to be buy the argument holding that the rival's propaganda of having closed its ranks and marched ahead would prove wrong when the results of the April 13 polls are declared.

After failing all these decades to open its account in Kerala Assembly, the BJP has focussed this time on a handful of seats mobilising its organisational strength to break the jinx.

Besides Achuthanandan (Malampuzha) and Congress chief ministerial probable Oommen Chandy (Puthupally), leading candidates whose fate will be known on May 13 include CPI(M) polit bureau member and Home Minister Kotiyeri Balakrishnan (Thalassery), KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala (Harippad), IUML leader P K Kunhalikutty (Vengara), late leader K Karunakaran's son K Muraleedharan (Vattiurkkavu) and former Union minister and BJP stalwart O Rajagopal (Nemom).

PTI

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