With the election commission announcing the assembly poll dates in Kerala, all the three political fronts in the state will have to speed up their seat-sharing arrangements.
Elections to the 140-member Kerala Assembly will be held on April 6. Counting will be held on May 2.
In the outgoing Assembly, the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has 91 seats, while the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has 47. The BJP has one seat while the remaining one belongs to P C George, whose party is not allied with any of the three fronts.
The LDF comprises 14 parties while in the UDF, there are just five parties at present.
The partners of the LDF include the Kerala Congress-Mani and the erstwhile Janata Dal-U (now the Loktantrik Janata Dal). Both the parties crossed over from the UDF last year.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) also has five allies. Of the five, parties other than the BJP and the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), have just nominal presence.
Things are going to be tough in the LDF, as its two new constituents, while they were in the UDF, had contested 18 seats (11 seats for KC(M) and 7 for the LJD) in the 2016 polls and have demanded they be given the same number this time too.
"The first round of talks between these two parties are over. It is quite natural for any political party to demand as many seats as possible. But everyone knows that there are limitations. Things will be ironed out to the benefit of all. To accommodate the new parties, both the CPM and the CPI will have to be content with lesser number of seats than what they contested in 2016," said a senior Left leader who did not wish to be identified.
In the UDF too, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), which is its second biggest constituent, and the faction of the Kerala Congress led by veteran P J Joseph are also trying to extract as many seats as possible.
"We have started talks with the allies and will be able to finish it soon and after which the Congress will finalise our list," state Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran said.
According to sources in the Congress, the IUML is likely to get an additional three and maximum of five more seats and Joseph might get around seven seats and the rest will go to the Congress, as it wants to contest as many seats as possible.
In the NDA, its second-biggest party BDJS managed to get 4 per cent votes in its first outing in the 2016 Assembly polls but has recently undergone a split. Hence, division of seats in the BJP-led front is also heading to be a tricky affair.