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Kerala: UDF scrapes through, LDF a close second

Friday May 13, 2011 03:21:34 PM, V. IANS

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Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) just about scraped through to victory in Kerala Friday, with the Left Democratic Front (LDF) putting up a valiant fight in the battle for 140-member assembly.

The UDF won 72 seats, just one more than the 71 needed to form a government, a result that kept people and political parties on tenterhooks for more than five hours after vote count began at 8 a.m.

According to the chief electoral officer's website, the ruling LDF headed by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) got 68 seats, in the narrowest ever victory margin in Kerala's political history.

When the 2009 Lok Sabha election took place, the UDF had gained leads in as many as 100 assembly segments, giving the Congress the confidence that it would sweep the assembly polls.

"This was not what we expected," said opposition leader and former chief minister Oommen Chandy, who is again tipped to take over the reins of the state.

The Congress could win just 38 of the 82 seats they contested. This has prompted party general secretary in charge of Kerala Madhusudhan Mistry to say it was necessary to find out what went wrong.

Even Kerala Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala won only after going through a uncertain time in the opening hours of the vote count.

In 2001, the UDF had swept to power, winning 99 seats. The same feat was repeated by the LDF in 2006 -- with the same number of seats.

The Left's 2011 battle was led by CPI-M Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who at age 87 has emerged as one of the most charismatic Communist politiians Kerala has ever produced.

Forest Minister Binoy Viswan of the Communist Party of India (CPI), an LDF member, predicted hard times for the Congress and UDF.

"Even though the UDF has won, it remains to be seen if they can go ahead in a smooth manner. You can certainly expect fireworks on their side because a few of their allies are totally unhappy," said Viswan.

But celebrations have begun in the UDF camp. And Chandy was taken in a procession to his church at Puthupally close to his home.






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