Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s Left alliance could upset the Congress in the electoral battle for Kerala and come back to power for a second straight term, according to exit polls on Thursday. If the predictions hold true, they would mark a departure from the political tradition of the state that usually changes its government every five years. It would also mean another poll setback for the Congress, which would be keen to register a win.
2016 results: The Left Democratic Front (LDF) won 91 of the state’s 140 seats, while the Congress’s United Democratic Front won 47 seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and an independent won one seat each.
Republic-CNX: LDF 72-80, UDF 58-64, BJP+ 1-5
Axis-My India: LDF 104-120, UDF 20-36, BJP+ 0-2
Today’s Chanakya: LDF 93-111, UDF 36-44, BJP+ 0-6
ABP CVoter: LDF 71-77, UDF 62-68, BJP+ 0-2
Times Now C-Voter: LDF 74, UDF 65, BJP+ 1
Poll Diary: LDF 77-87, UDF 51-61, BJP+ 2-3
The battle for Kerala
In Kerala, the only state the Left rules, the Congress is challenging it in the race to form the next government. The outcome is important for both sides.
The state has traditionally changed its government every five years. Going by that, the Congress has a real chance to oust the LDF, boost the sagging morale of its workers in Kerala and elsewhere, and, to some extent, silence critics within and outside the party. In case of a win in Kerala, the Congress will be in power in a sixth state, alongside Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand (it is part of the ruling coalition in the last two).
But it won’t be a cakewalk. For CM Vijayan remains a popular figure despite debates over anti-incumbency. His government’s handling of the Covid outbreak during its initial days and management of the floods have earned him praise. The Left also appears to fight it out as its future in the electoral democracy depends on the results in Kerala and Bengal, where the Congress is its partner. If exit polls are anything to go by, Vijayan is in for a golden opportunity.
But exit polls have got it wrong often in the past with a section of analysts arguing that the mood of a handful of voters surveyed could not represent the true picture.