Kerala lived up to its tradition of voting out the incumbent government after every five years. But it wasn't a decisive win for the Congress-led UDF.
It managed to sew up a victory with a slender margin - out of 140 seats it got 72 and LDF 68. This is the first time state is witnessing a photo finish.
Though the CPM bit dust in West Bengal it can take pride in Kerala thanks to the 'VS factor'. With 45 seats it is the single largest party.
The 87-year-old outgoing chief minister, VS Achuthanandan, has managed to take the fight to the rival camp. He checked the anti-incumbency wave effectively.
Good performance of some of the allies like the Muslim League, which got 20 out of 24 seats it contested, and Kerala Congress (Mani) which won nine, helped the UDF to muster a simple majority.
Out of 85 seats it contested, the Congress could manage only 38. It suffered major setbacks in Kozhikode (north Kerala), Alapuzha and Pathanamthitta districts reducing its number considerably.
With its reduced strength the Congress would be losing its bargaining power in the state. Besides, it has to tolerate pressures of allies like League. Even parties with single MLAs like Kerala Congress (Jacob) and RSP (B) would have to be accommodated in the cabinet otherwise their desertions would push it to the opposition benches.
"It is not on expected lines. But we will form the government," PCC chief Ramesh Chennithala, who won from Harippad, said.
Poor candidates and its tiff with allies cost the party dear. State leaders will have to explain much for its dismal show. Opposition leader Oommen Chandy tops the list for the CM's post. With slender margin it will be a tight-rope walk for the new CM.
Position is equally worrying for the CPM. It has to find a suitable slot for its aging mascot - Achuthanandan. If he becomes opposition leader he will be back to his favorite game-going after graft cases and sex scandals. Then the party will have to answer many questions.
Party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan is an accused in the Lavalin power graft case.
"Some of the caste outfits went against us. We will perform like an effective opposition," said the outgoing CM giving enough hints that he would continue his fight against corruption and sex scandals.
A distant third BJP drew blank in the state this time also.