As the agonising wait for the counting of votes starts, the ruling Left Democratic Front and the opposition United Democratic Front have reassessed their positions. The LDF has brushed aside talks of a change of guard in the state, while the UDF is confident that the only Left government in the country is on its last leg.
The UDF claims to win 75 to 80 seats. The LDF hopes to win at least 80 seats. Whoever wins, the majority could be slender.
The Congress expects to win 40 to 50 seats and ally Indian Union Muslim League up to 20 seats while other allies could bring in 8 to 10 seats. The front could better the tally in case of a trend.
Both the CPI(M) and the CPI are prepared to lose some of the sitting seats. The LDF may offset these losses by gaining in central Kerala, where new ally Kerala Congress (M) could be an asset.
Neither the LDF nor the UDF expects any significant gains for the BJP-led coalition. However, they are wary of the votes the National Democratic Alliance might get in the swing constituencies. Here is a status report from the districts.
The LDF stands to gain three seats in the district and the UDF two. The UDF faces stiff challenge from the NDA in Manjeshwaram, which the BJP lost by just 89 votes in 2016. The UDF has made significant inroads in the LDF stronghold of Uduma. The IUML has ensured its victory in Kasaragod, the UDF estimates. The UDF has put up a strong fight against the LDF in the red bastions of Kanhangad and Trikaripur, but the LDF is not worried.
The LDF had swept eight of the 11 assembly seats in the district in 2016, but the UDF seemed to have closed the gap in many of the constituencies. The UDF is confident of retaining Irikkur, Peravur and Azheekode seats and even wresting Kannur and Koothuparamba from the LDF. The CPI(M) and its allies have no fears when it comes to Payyannur, Taliparamba, Kaliassery, Dharmadom, Mattannur and Thalassery constituencies. The BJP expects to finish as runner up in Dharmadom, where Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is a sure winner.
The UDF expects to win Sulthan Bathery and is confident of advances in Kalpetta and Mananthavady. The LDF local committees have assured the state leadership that Kalpetta and Mananthavady are going nowhere. The Congress candidate in Kalpetta, T Siddique, pins his hopes on the 63,754 vote lead the party secured in the assembly segment when Rahul Gandhi was elected the representative of the larger Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency. The LDF expects M V Shreyams Kumar to win on the back of his local connections. It discounts the effect of Rahul Gandhi MP's road show that seemed to energise the UDF. The LDF says it is only concerned about increasing its majority.
The LDF has an upper hand in the district, which has 13 assembly segments. The LDF expects to win up to seven and the UDF up to three. The LDF is firm with Beypore, Elathur, Balussery and Perambra seats, while the UDF sits tight on Vatakara, Koduvally and Kozhikode South seats. Kuttiyadi, Kunnamangalam, Nadapuram, Koyilandi, Thiruvambadi and Kozhikode North witnessed close contests. The LDF expects to win all six of them, while the UDF says it could win up to four.
The UDF may retain its sitting seats of Malappuram, Vengara, Thiroorangadi, Vandoor, Kottaykal, Mankada, Kondotty, Vallikkunnu, Ereanad, Manjeri and Tirur. The LDF has an advantage in its sitting seats of Ponnani and Tavanur, where minister K T Jaleel is contesting from. The LDF has made the situation tough for the UDF in Perinthalmanna, one of the 12 sitting seats held by the opposition front. The LDF will find it hard to retain control of Nilambur and Tanur, which it wrested from the UDF last time.
The LDF has nine MLAs in the district, but not all of those seats are secure this time. The ruling front may retain its upper hand in the district even if it is dealt with surprises in its strongholds. It is facing stiff challenges in four of its sitting seats in Pattambi, Ottappalam, Chittoor and Nenmara. The UDF is facing close contests in its sitting seats of Palakkad and Trithala, which the CPM hopes to wrest even if by a slender margin. The UDF hopes to raise its tally from three to five. The Congress expects that Shafi Parambil in Palakkad and V T Balram in Thrithala are likely to carry the day. Both the fronts are watching closely for any surprise victory for the BJP.
The UDF stands to gain in the district where it lost all seats but one in the previous assembly election. The LDF has an upper hand in Puthukkad, Nattika, Kaypamangalam and Chelakkara seats while the UDF is confident of winning Thrissur, Guruvayur and Chalakudy seats. Six seats are too close to call though the LDF claims to have an advantage in Kunnamkulam and Manalur seats. The UDF expects to retain Wadakkancherry even though the sole opposition MLA in the district faced a tight contest. Irinjalakuda is also a fence sitter. The BJP claims that its candidate in the Manalur seat has put up a brave fight against the other candidates. The party has kept its hopes alive for the Thrissur seat.
The UDF may retain its dominance in the district. The Congress and allies expect to improve their tally by winning 11 seats in the district. The opposition front expects to retain the nine seats it won last time and wrest Kothamangalam and Moovattupuzha from the LDF. The ruling front, on the other hand, expects to retain Kothamangalam, Moovattupuzha, Kochi, Vypeen and Thrippunithura seats and also turn the tables in Kalamassery and Kunnathunad seats. The BJP expects to have gathered 60,000 votes in Thrippunithura. The votes gathered by the NDA may be crucial in constituencies such as Thrippunithura.
The LDF had expected to make inroads in the district with the entry of new ally Kerala Congress (M). The UDF is hopeful of winning Thodupuzha and Peermade, while the LDF expects to win Idukki and Udumbanchola seats. Miniser M M Mani does not seem to have a cakewalk in the Idukki seat, where E M Augusthy of the Congress raced ahead in the last lap. Though Idukki witnessed a heated campaign, the lower voter turnout is seen as benefiting Roshy Augustine. The UDF can claim a slight lead in Devikulam, where the votes the NDA managed to secure could be decisive in any outcome.
The district is entirely represented by the LDF in the present Kerala legislative assembly but such a landslide is not expected this time. The UDF and the LDF is slugging it out in the district this time. The UDF may improve its tally from 2016. The LDF is confident of winning the Tiruvalla, Aranmula and Adoor seats. The UDF is also confident of Aranmula, along with Konni and Ranni. The UDF even expects to pull off a surprise victory in Adoor. The LDF camp is a bit unsure about its prospects of retaining Ranni this time.
The district has always remained a UDF stronghold but the shift of the Kerala Congress (M) to the LDF camp may change the equations. The LDF and the UDF claim victories in five seats each. The ruling front has high hopes on Vaikom, Ettumanur, Kanjirappally, Pala and Kaduthuruthy seats, while the opposition front is confident about Puthuppally, Kottayam, Kaduthuruthy, Pala and Changanassery seats. UDF leaders even suggested that a wave in their favour could let them win Poonjar and Kanjirappally seats. Pala is a close contest to call. The BJP has only one focus constituency in the district and that is Kanjirappally. P C George, the Poonjar MLA who is out of all major political alliances, has already started celebrating.
Even the most ardent LDF supporter is not confident of repeating the impressive win of 2016 when the front won nine seats. Chengannur and Mavelikkara are seen as sure seats. They also expect to retain Ambalappuzha, Alappuzha and Cherthala. Harippad is not in the picture. The front is wary of losing Kuttanad. Kayamkulam and Aroor witnessed close contests. The UDF expects to gain the coastal areas of the district, thanks to the controversy related to a deep-sea trawling contract. They expect winds of change in Kayamkulam, Alappuzha, Cherthala and Aroor constituencies. The NDA has lower stakes in the district, though the BJP-led front is expected to put up a good show in Chengannur.
The LDF may not sweep the district like last time. The ruling front is confident of retaining Kottarakkara, Kundara, Eravipuram, Punalur, Kollam, Chathannur, Pathanapuram and Chadayamangalam seats. The UDF expects to win at least six seats, including Karunagappally, Chavara, Kollam, Kundara, Pathanapuram and Kunnathur. They also expect to win Eravipuram, Chadayamangalam and Kottarakkara in case of an anti-incumbency wave. The BJP is focused on Chathannur, where it came second last time.
The LDF was expected to continue its home run in the district but the UDF seemed to have closed the gap in the last few days of the campaign in at least half the seats. The BJP has ensured a three-cornered contest in Nemom, Kazhakkoottam and Kattakkada. The LDF expects to win seven seats and the UDF is confident of victory in five seats and even seven seats in case of a swing. The UDF hopes are focused on Kovalam, Aruvikkara, Thiruvananthapuram, Parassala, Neyyattinkara and Nedumangad seats. The best-case scenario includes Vamanapuram and Varkala. The LDF has no second thoughts about Attingal, Chirayinkeezh, Vattiyoorkavu, Kazhakkoottam, Vamanapuram, Parassala and Neyyattinkuara seats. The votes gathered by the BJP will be decisive in any outcomes in nine seats.