A resurgent Left notched up an emphatic victory in Kerala on Thursday as it trounced the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) with the state repeating its history of booting out incumbent governments.
The Left Democratic Front won 91 seats in the 140-member house as the scam-ridden UDF was reduced to 47 seats with many incumbent ministers failing to win from their constituencies.
The BJP also won its first-ever assembly seat in the state, with 83-year-old O Rajagopal emerging victorious in the Nemamom constituency in Thiruvananthapuram.
Veteran CPI(M) leader VS Achuthanandan, a top contender for the chief minister’s post, said the verdict was a befitting reply to the UDF misrule.
“It is a verdict against corruption and violence against women,” said Achuthanandan who retained his sitting seat in Malampuzha with a huge margin. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him up and congratulated him.
The LDF surge in the southern state was the only good news for the Left that was crushed in West Bengal.
Experts said the Congress loss was precipitated by mounting corruption charges against chief minister Oommen Chandy and the brutal rape and murder of a Dalit law student in the midst of poll campaigning.
The defeat is a personal setback for Chandy.“It is an unexpected result. The UDF will meet soon to discuss it,” said the CM who retained his Puthupally seat in Kottayam.
The LDF breached the traditional forts of Congress and Muslim League while the BJP ended a close second in seven seats.
In north Kerala’s Mancheswaram, saffron party candidate K Surendran lost to the Muslim League with a wafer-thin margin of 89 votes. The BJP’s poll understanding with the fledgling Ezhava outfit BDJS (Bharatiya Dharma Jana Sena) may have failed to yield desired results.
Vote shares showed the two minority communities of Muslims and Christians -- that form 45% of the state and have traditionally voted for the UDF – deserted the UDF and backed the LDF. Some of UDF allies such as JD(U) and RSP and failed to win a single seat.
But it is still not clear who will be the next CM, 93-year-old Achuthanandan or his arch-rival and senior leader Pinarayi Vijayan. It will not be easy for the party to decide and doughty veteran Achuthanandan is certain to drive a hard bargain.