A day after the election in Kerala, the opposition United Democratic Front is excited about its prospects while the ruling Left Democratic Front showed no signs of fatigue. Even the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance kept alive its hopes.
All political formations are yet to come out with detailed analyses of the voting patterns. The Congress leadership, however, claimed that they could sense a wave in favour of the UDF by Tuesday evening. Even former chief minister and former Union minister A K Antony, known for economy of words, said he had no doubts about a victory.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other leaders of the LDF forecast a "historic win" for the CPM-led front in the early hours of polling but they reserved their comments in the evening. They brushed aside the UDF claims, pointing out how the UDF leaders were confident of a victory after elections to the local self-government bodies. They said that the CPM would make its opinions known only after assessment at the organizational level.
The UDF and the NDA seemed relieved that the polling day passed without any surprises. The LDF, however, was uncomfortable with the Sabarimala issue taking the centre stage on the poll day. The front had tried to avoid any mention of the issue throughout the campaign.
Though the LDF expected the public opposition of the Nair Service Society to have unintended consequences, the front is still wary about the Sabarimala issue that contributed to a rout in the Lok Sabha election in 2019.
The UDF estimated that the vigilance against bogus electors on the list has helped cut down on malpractices despite random complaints. UDF leaders are happy that their workers were actively monitoring the process in all constituencies through the day.
The heavy polling witnessed in LDF strongholds in north Kerala is interpreted by the LDF as beneficial to them, while the UDF pointed out that it was a reflection of the sentiments against the state government. Though about half the electors had voted by noon, raising expectations of a record-breaking turnout, the momentum was lost in the afternoon.
Each constituency had 2,500 postal votes on an average, given a total of 3.5 lakh postal votes all over the state. There is no historical data that suggests that high voter turnout works in favour of a particular alliance.
The UDF is hopeful of a victory as they think that the opposition managed to set the agenda for the election. They said that the LDF could not set its own agenda as it was busy replying to the allegations raised by the UDF. Even those responses were not convincing enough, they pointed out. The LDF also lagged on the campaign trail where the UDF stepped up the campaign with road shows by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi.
The LDF, however, said that the UDF assessment was based on the crowds it witnessed in the campaign trail. They said that the political climate has not changed much from the days of the local body elections which gave the LDF a clear lead. The charges against the government had actually come down, they argue. The CPM pinned its hopes on its unparalleled organizational structure and a lack of anti-incumbency sentiments.
The BJP is elated by the high voter turnout in the constituencies in which it had emerged as a strong contender that could match the dominant fronts. The BJP voting pattern in specific constituencies could spoil the chance of either front.
Soon after the voting ended, UDF and LDF leaders accused each other of aiding the NDA in several constituencies.
CPI(M)'s acting state secretary A Vijayaraghavan on Wednesday alleged that the Congress had made deals with BJP, which in turn helped the latter to make significant gains in the election.
On the other hand, KPCC chief Mullappally Ramachandran said he is concerned about the likely result from the Manjeshwaram constituency (where BJP chief K Surendran is contesting).
"The feedback I got from the Congress workers in the constituency is worrying. Pinarayi Vijayan is to be blamed if BJP wins the Manjeshwaram seat," Mullappally said.
Meanwhile, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, who contested from Kazhakoottam constituency in Thiruvananthapuram district, predicted the BJP will not win a single assembly seat in the district.
The result of the Kazhakoottam seat will prove that people discussed more about development rather than the Sabarimala issue during the election, the minister added.
Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram district is the only assembly seat the BJP has ever won in Kerala. The party hopes to repeat its 2016 victory from here as well as bag several others from elsewhere in the state.