For the first time in Kerala’s political history, a two-way contest to the finish line has been reshaped by the presence of a third rival- BJP’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA)- as a result of which the upcoming polls are in for a photo finish.
While traditional contenders- the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-backed Left Democratic Front (LDF)-continue to dominate the state’s political arena, the NDA could play party pooper for the two fronts by cutting into their vote share.
With no clear winner in sight, the UDF hopes to become the first incumbent party to retain power in the state. The Left on the other hand will be hoping for history to repeat itself so that it can regain one of its old bastions. For the saffron party, the elections are an opportunity to prove that it is no longer a pushover in the southern state.
The Left, which enjoys a slight edge over the other two, is banking on Kerala’s 28% Muslim population to form the government.
Both UDF and LDF have tried wooing voters from minority communities in the run up to the election.
“Don’t allow these people to enter your kitchen to find out what you cooked for the day,” veteran Congress leader AK Antony said as he tried to dissuade people from electing the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) because of its perceived anti-beef stand.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan, who is also in the running for the chief minister’s post, said there was “no doubt that they will cross the hundred mark easily”.
However, even ardent supporters did not share the CPI(M) politburo’s confidence as they claimed that winning hundred or more seats in the state with 140 constituencies will be a herculean task.
The BJP has left no stone unturned while campaigning for the polls. From pumping in money, to getting party bigwigs including Prime Minister Narendra Modi to host rallies, the right-wing party has tried its all to pose a threat to the other two traditional rivals.
In the absence of a clear wave in favour of any front, the polls are likely to run down to the wire. The solar scam and the brutal rape and murder of a Dalit woman in the state were among the key issues that dominated the campaign.