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Anxiety in LDF, UDF camps as the verdict nears
Most exit polls have forecast that UDF has a slight edge, but the gap between the two fronts would be narrow.
Thiruvananthapuram: An air of anxiety pervaded ruling LDF and opposition UDF camps in Kerala with the political profile of the state for the next five years to be decided when counting of votes is taken up on Friday.
Never before have voters and candidates in Kerala had to wait for such a long time to know the outcome after exercising their franchise.
Elections for the 140 member Assembly were held on April 13, in what was one of the most bitterly fought elections in the state's history.
Most exit polls have forecast that UDF has a slight edge, but the gap between the two fronts would be narrow this time.
The surveys have also indicated it would be a close call, adding to the anxiety in the two camps.
Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, however, appeared unperturbed by the surveys.
"Wait till May 13 when counting begins," was all that he said on Wednesday, seeking to steer clear of poll surveys and exit polls.
Achuthanandan, however, seemed to draw comfort from the fact that all surveys had shown that a majority of voters acknowledged the 'good things' done by the LDF government in the last five years.
"About 65 per cent of respondents to all the surveys said the government had performed quite well. This is something that gives satisfaction. The rest we will see on May 13 when the results will be declared," the 87-year-old leader had said.
In the initial stages, the UDF seemed to have had an edge, but the veteran Marxist leader's aggressive campaigning has injected hopes of victory in the LDF camp.
As in the past, the battle of the ballot this time too is between the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and the opposition Congress-headed UDF, which have been alternating in power since 1982.
Will Kerala live up to its penchant for change every alternate five years by giving the mandate to Congress-led UDF or will the CPI(M)-headed LDF under Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan buck the trend by securing a second term? This is the question dominating the state as the countdown for counting began.
LDF swept the polls in 2006 grabbing 98 seats in the 140 member House, which was almost the reverse of the 2001 tally.
The voter turnout this time was higher at 75.12 per cent from 72.38 per cent in 2001.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the LDF received a drubbing as UDF grabbed 16 of 20 Parliament seats from Kerala. UDF again dealt a crushing blow to LDF in last year's local body polls.
But LDF appeared to have recovered some lost ground during the assembly poll campaign making the race neck-to-neck.
After failing all these decades to open its account in the Kerala Assembly, BJP focussed this time on a handful of seats mobilising its organisational strength to break the jinx.
Besides Achuthanandan (Malampuzha) and Congress Chief Ministerial probable Oommen Chandy (Puthupally), leading candidates whose fate will be known on May 13 include CPI(M) polit bureau member and Home Minister Kotiyeri Balakrishnan (Thalassery), KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala (Harippad), IUML leader P K Kunhalikutty (Vengara), late leader K Karunakaran's son K Muraleedharan (Vattiurkkavu), Kerala Congress (M) veteran K M Mani (Palai) and former Union
minister and BJP stalwart O Rajagopal (Nemom).
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