The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) is likely to return for an historic second term in Kerala, exit polls showed on Thursday.
An aggregate of three exit polls – by India Today-Axis My India, Republic TV-CNX and P-MARQ – showed the LDF likely winning 88 of 140 seats, and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) 50; the BJP will likely win the remaining two seats, doubling its tally in the assembly.
Votes are set to be counted on Sunday.
Kerala has a four-decade tradition of alternating between the LDF and UDF, but the exit polls suggest the state could buck the trend this time.
After weeks of rallies and roadshows, Kerala voted for a new administration on April 6 and picked from more than 900 candidates, including high-profile leaders.
The two traditional coalitions – the LDF, led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), and the UDF, led by the Congress, sought another term while the BJP, long an outlier in the state, tried to put up a brave show.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Health Minister KK Shailaja, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, Power Minister MM Mani and Higher Education Minister KK Jaleel were among the prominent faces in the election.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, former chief minister Oommen Chandy, senior leaders K Muraleedharan, PT Thomas and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, MK Muneer, VS Sivakumar were among those contesting from the UDF fold.
The elections were crucial for an array of BJP leaders including former Mizoram governor Kummam Rajasekharan, ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan, who joined the party recently, state president K Surendran, senior leader Shobha Surendran, Rajya Sabha members Suresh Gopi and KJ Alphons, among others.
According to the Manorama News-VMR exit poll, Vijayan and Shailaja are likely to retain their seats. Here are projections for some of the key seats:
K Surendran (NDA) – 35.9%
Pinarayi Vijayan (LDF) – 55.1%
KK Shailaja (LDF) – 39.2%
AN Shamseer (LDF) – 54.2%
Noorbina Rashid (UDF) – 46.4%
Firoz Kunnumparambil (UDF) – 42.9%
Shafi Parambil (UDF) – 38.4%
VT Balram (UDF) – 46.3%
NK Akbar (LDF) – 43.7%