Thiruvananthapuram: The anxiety over the outcome of the Kerala Legislative Assembly election has reached a fever pitch with the publication of exit polls on Thursday.
Both the prominent rival alliances, the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Left Democratic Front (LDF), are confident of a positive result by Sunday noon, though neither are expecting a massive victory.
Multiple exit polls predicted a slight edge for the LDF over UDF, which has left the latter concerned. Contrary to earlier surveys that predicted a massive LDF win, the exit polls hinted at a stiff electoral battle, making UDF hopeful.
LDF, meanwhile, has adopted a stand against taking the survey and exit poll results seriously. The Front, however, is upbeat over most results predicting a continuation of the LDF rule.
There is enough reason for the LDF being upbeat. The exit polls by national agencies in 2016 had predicted a pro-LDF sentiment among the electorate. Though the number of seats won differed from the exit poll results, the prediction of an LDF win had then come true.
The CPM and CPI leaderships, which analysed data collected from the grassroots level, are confident of winning 75 to 82 Assembly seats. They felt the popular sentiment was for the continuation of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government.
Additionally, the LDF campaign machinery had been effective, which further fuels its hopes of continuing in power.
A combined majority- combined anti-LDF sentiment as seen in the 2019 general election, and a silent undercurrent against a possible second Pinarayi ministry might mar the LDF’s prospects. After a close examination, the CPM leadership ruled out the possibility of such an undercurrent.
UDF hopes for the best
The UDF is pinning its hopes on the ‘trend’ that was visible as its campaign gained steam. Its leadership estimated that an anti-incumbency wave had influenced the voting preferences, which would render the exit polls irrelevant.
The current opposition alliance is expecting a better performance in the 11 districts where the UDF had lagged behind in 2016, besides gaining total supremacy in Ernakulam and Malappuram.
The Congress leadership is expecting to win 75 to 85 seats, but is worried over the LDF’s visible confidence. UDF also has had the experience of its high electoral hopes, since 2011, getting shattered on the counting day.
Still, the UDF leadership believes that the LDF would not rewrite the State’s political history by registering a consecutive second win to continue in power.
How BJP may fare
Both the Fronts are keenly watching the BJP’s performance with trepidation. Despite reiterating that the BJP won’t win even a single seat, the UDF and LDF are aware of the saffron party’s ability to pull off a sabotage.
The UDF and LDF are not ruling out the possibility of the BJP coming second in 10 to 15 Assembly constituencies. The Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) party, meanwhile, is not likely to match the performance of its senior partner in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Even as the victory margin is likely to be slender in several constituencies, the BJP’s performance in such segments will determine the fate of UDF and LDF candidates. The BJP leadership is hopeful of winning five to 10 seats, leaving Kerala with a hung Assembly.