Known for his organisational skills and administrative acumen, Oommen Chandy is perceived to be the best bet for Congress to lead the UDF ministry as it commands a wafer-thin majority with 72 seats in the 140-member Kerala Assembly.
67-year-old Chandy, a key political player of Kerala for long, has played a vital role since 1970s in building the party as a mass force capable of taking on the CPI(M).
A mass leader with a man-next-door image, Chandy scaled the political ladder starting from his school days as an activist of Congress's student-wing Kerala Students Union.
Chandy's acceptability and popularity greatly helped the Congress to strike roots among the youth through the politically turbulent 1960s and 70s.
He moved to the central role of the UDF left vacant by late K Karunakaran and A K Antony when he was chosen as chief minister for an interim term in 2004-06.
Chandy led the coalition as the opposition leader in the last five years after the UDF defeat in 2006, enjoying the confidence of all its allies.
Though the entry of KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala into the electoral race this time had initially sent signals that he would throw his hat in the ring, he opted out paving the way for unanimous election of Chandy as leader of Congress Legislature Party.
Chandy once again proved his political and managerial skills by wrapping up the agreement among UDF partners on apportioning of cabinet berths and portfolios, proving wrong the skeptics who had forecast that allies would spoil the show through pressure tactics right from the start.
The Congress leader was elected to the Kerala Assembly from his home constituency Puthupally for the 10th time in a row.
Since the 1970s, he has been a frontline soldier of the anti-Karunakaran camp in Congress in Kerala with seniors A K Antony and Vayalar Ravi, who emerged on the centre stage of politics drawing inspiration from the policies of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi after the Congress split in 1969.
It was this upsurge of Congress in 1970s that made the party a mighty force in Kerala capable of surmounting the challenge posed by the cadre-based CPI(M), and made the UDF a formidable alternative that returned to power time and again.