The emergence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a third force in Kerala politics appeared to have introduced an element of unpredictability into the post-poll calculations of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF).
Congress and Communist Party of India(Marxist) campaign managers strived to read the runes in 140 constituencies on Wednesday. The BJP factor loomed in the background.
The LDF sought reassurance in the estimation that the government did not face an enfeebling anti-incumbency factor. The ruling front believed that its governance record and manifesto moored to welfarism and development had improved its chances for a second consecutive term in power.
However, the LDF seemed unsure how the Nair Service Society’s poll day spotlighting of the Sabarimala issue would impact Hindu voters.
By some accounts, the LDF hoped to retain most of its seats in Kollam, Alappuzha and Thrissur districts. It expected to increase its tally in Thiruvananthapuram and defeat the BJP in Nemom.
The coalition has put much stock in the Kerala Congress (M) to make gains in Kottayam and Idukki. It believed the “apolitical” Twenty20 collective would eat into UDF votes in Ernakulam.
The LDF hoped to dominate the Malabar region and foray into the Indian Union Muslim League bastions in Malappuram.
Like the LDF, the UDF also hoped to win a ruling majority with a clear margin. It has sensed a political drift in its favour. Sabarimala had billowed its sails. The LDF’s alleged attempt to open the seas to foreign trawlers had manifested as a powerful headwind. Rahul Gandhi’s campaigning would tip the balance in favour of the UDF.
The Congress has tried hard to make a comeback in Kollam, Alappuzha and Thrissur. It expected a surge in its popularity in Kozhikode, Kottayam, and Idukki.
The BJP has narrowed down its victory chances to less than five constituencies. However, it felt it had emerged as a decisive third force and made significant inroads into the Christian community’s electoral bastions in central and southern Kerala.
The National Democratic Alliance has high hopes for Nemom, Kazhakuttam, Konni, Malampuzha, and Manjeswaram.
At least two pre-poll surveys had accorded an electoral advantage to the LDF. However, the the UDF and the BJP had rubbished the opinion polls.