UDF wins in Kerala, but CPM stays largest party

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: May 14 2011, 08:08am hrs
Kerala is in a winner-is-loser, loser-is-winner trauma, given the 72-68 win the United Democratic Front (UDF) has scored over the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF).

It is the first time the state has witnessed a nearly hung-house seat pattern. The UDF managed to cross the magic halfway number of 71 seats by the skin of its teeth, but its lead party, the Congress, has little to cheer. More than half its candidates lost. This leaves it at the mercy of its coalition partners like the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and Kerala Congress (M).

Ironically, the CPI(M), which heads the LDF, has emerged the single largest party, but has to demit office as the Congress-led alliance as a whole has eked out a simple majority. The mandate shows that there was no anti-incumbency wave against my government, said outgoing chief minister VS Achuthanandan.

The long-awaited win has not brought much excitement and jubilation to Indira Bhavan, the Congress state headquarters. With a fragile mandate as this, the government would be too unstable to undertake any ambitious development plan, a would-be-Congress legislator was heard saying.

Former Union minister Shashi Tharoor put a positive spin on it. What matters most is that the voter has given a mandate for change,, the Congress MP and told FE.

The Acuthanandan government had an appreciable track record in welfare measures, but it failed to attract big-ticket private sector investment. Against the 2001-06 UDF governments R25,000 crore, the LDF government could bring in just Rs 10,000 crore. On the flip side, the signing of the $333-million Kochi SmartCity deal boosted the 87-year-old chief ministers image. This could have helped create the cross-currents that precipitated the mixed mandate.

At the end of the day, it was a wafer-thin win for the UDF. All that CM-probable Oommen Chandy of the Congress would say is, I had counted on a better margin for the UDF.