Thiruvananthapuram: Congress-led UDF Friday managed to wrest power from the ruling CPM-controlled LDF in Kerala with a wafer-thin majority of two seats in the 140-member Assembly, in the closest poll battle in the state in three decades. UDF won 72 seats, crossing the magic figure of 71 required for a simple majority as against its rival LDF's 68.
Led by CPM stalwart, 87-year-old V S Achuthanandan, the LDF succeeded in staving off the anti-incumbency trend against the government, which was reflected in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and civic elections last year, in which the UDF had stolen march over the Left front.
Even as LDF lost, the CPM emerged as the single largest party with 45 seats while Congress, which contested 82 seats, had to be content with a poor tally of 38 seats. Today's outcome gave the slenderest majority to either of the coalitions that ruled the state alternately in the last three decades. In 2006, the LDF won 98 seats and UDF 42.
The Indian Union Muslim League and Kerala Congress (Mani), which command good following in the Muslim and Christian dominated areas, contributed significantly to UDF's victory. However, the minor partners of the coalitions like JSS and CMP drew a blank.
The BJP once again proved an electoral flop in the bipolar polity of Kerala despite the saffron party pooling its resources in a handful of seats in north and south. Prominent UDF candidates, who romped home, include its Chief Ministerial probable Oommen Chandy, KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala, K Muraleedharan (Cong) IUML leader P K Kunhalikutty and Kerala Congress leader K M Mani (Pala). CPM veteran V S Achuthanandan, whose high spirited campaigning helped the LDF arrest the onslaught of the rival, scored a hat-trick of wins from the red bastion Malampuzha with a margin of over 23,000 votes.
While most of his cabinet colleagues won, Devaswom Minister Ramahandran Kadnapally (Cong-s), Water Resources Minister N K Premachandran (RSP)and Youth Affairs Minister V Surendran Pillai fell by the wayside. Veterans humbled by the voters included 92-year-old K R Gowry Ammma (JSS) and M V Raghavan (CMP), both UDF partners.
LDF maintained its sway over the northern districts, except the Muslim League-dominated Malappuram.While UDF put up good showing in the Christian heartland Central Travancore, the trend was mixed in the south including the state capital.