As D-Day dawns, all the main political parties in the fray are keeping fingers crossed. The fate of three main political parties --- the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be decided on Sunday.
A single-phase voting for the 140 Assembly constituencies was held on April 6. After a month-long grueling campaign, it was an anxious and long wait for the political parties. The counting was scheduled for May 2, after the polling for five states got over on April 29.
Though the alarming Covid-19 situation in the country has dampened the spirit of counting day, foot soldiers of all main political parties have taken to social media platforms to discuss and debate the outcome of the polls. With the Election Commission banning victory celebrations in view of the pandemic situation, party workers of the main political parties told Outlook that they have opted for subdued celebrations.
The supporters of the ruling CPM are elated as multiple exit polls and pre-poll surveys have predicted an emphatic victory for the ruling CPM-led LDF. If the party returns to office for a second term, the communists will be creating a history of sorts. In the last 40 years, the state has alternated its governments every five years. It always stuck to two political coalitions — the LDF and the UDF.
This time, at least five exit polls have given an edge for a second term for the ruling CPM. However, the Opposition party Congress has defied the exit poll results. Opposition leader and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala has defied the exit poll results and exuded confidence that UDF will come to power upsetting the exit poll predictions.
It will be a setback for the grand old party Congress if it fails to secure power. The party was banking on its senior leader Rahul Gandhi, who is a Parliamentarian from the Wayanad constituency. Congress leaders are also aware that if the party fails to snatch power from the Communists, it will reflect poorly on Rahul Gandhi’s leadership too.
The third player in the fray—BJP-led NDA’s performance will be keenly watched. The party sees a bright chance of winning for its star candidate E Sreedharan, who is also known as “metro man”. The party is also hoping to increase its vote significantly, say its leaders. Currently, the saffron party has a vote share of 15 per cent, while it holds one seat in the 140-seat Assembly.
In 2016, the LDF won 91 seats, while the Congress coalition manages to get only 47 seats.
The exit poll results showed the popularity of the Pinarayi government especially among women and youth, say CPM leaders. Observers believe that if the LDF returns to power, it will reinforce Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s leadership in the party.
The party was banking on Vijayan’s image as a crisis manager in the face of adverse situations such as floods, the Nipah virus, and the pandemic. Party leaders believe that it will be rewarded for the welfare measures undertaken by the government such as providing welfare pensions and free rations among others.
As many as 957 candidates, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy, E Sreedharan, former Union Minister K J Alphons and BJP state president K Surendran, among others are in the fray.