Microphones fall silent; the silence of the Kerala voter is deafening still
The United Democratic Front (UDF) hopes to retain power and make history. Since 1977, Kerala has never voted an incumbent back to power.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) camp is brimming with confidence, and its enthusiasm boosted by many pre-poll surveys that predicted a comfortable majority for the left camp.
Though both fronts may not openly agree, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has emerged as a third force to reckon with. Some pre-poll surveys predicted that the BJP-alliance will break the Kerala-jinx and would make it to the Assembly for the first time in history. If so, it will put an end to the bipolar electoral politics in Kerala where the LDF and the UDF shared the seats among themselves and a small swing in vote share between them decided the ruling coalition.
Asianet News C-Fore Survey conducted two rounds of pre-poll surveys and both predicted the LDF making it across the halfway mark in the 140-member Assembly. The first pre-poll survey by the Asianet News in February predicted that the Left will come to power with 77-82 seats and the UDF will be reduced to 55 to 60 seats. It also said that the BJP will make history winning three to five seats.
The predictions of the second phase of opinion polls of Asianet News released by the end of April did not make much of a difference. Opinion polls by Times Now-CVoter also predicted a surge of the Left in Kerala.
Asianet News Elections.in Times Now
LDF: 75-81 82 86
UDF: 56-62 55 53
NDA: 3-5 3 1
Similarly, another survey by Institute for Institute for Monitoring Economic Growth, Thiruvananthapuram predicted a comfortable majority for the LDF with 83-90 seats, reducing the UDF to just 50 to 57 seats while the BJP again failing to open an account. But the survey predicted an increase in the vote share for the saffron party.
The only survey that predicted a lead for the UDF was of Mars. The survey was done for the PUSH agency that supervised the UDF campaign. It projected that the UDF may scrape through with 69 to 73 seats with the LDF finishing close behind with 65-69 seats. BJP will remain nought, it said.
The swing of a nearly 4% of votes is decisive in Kerala assembly and hence the increase in the vote share of the BJP and the subsequent loss it incurs on the other two fronts will make a lot of difference this time. The Asianet News pre-poll survey predicted that the LDF will gain 40% of total vote share with a 3% lead over the UDF votes. The BJP, the survey projected, will get 18% of votes while others will get 5%.
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The expected surge in BJP vote share means a lot and the political pundits are still baffled about who would be benefited by it. It is interesting to note that in 2011 Assembly polls, the UDF gained a simple majority with 48.83% and the LDF finished with 44.94%. The BJP managed to get only 6.6% of votes polled. Almost all the pre-poll surveys pegged the BJP vote share between 10% and 18%.
Vote share: 2011 Assembly polls:
Pre-poll projections have gone terribly wrong in the past. The questions on the reliability of these predictions, based on a small percentage of the electorate may not reflect the whole picture. Surveys may not be able to fathom the real issues that work on the ground and they may not be able to forecast the groundswell and the undercurrents.
But the safest prediction would be that this is going to be a watershed poll with longtime implications for state and the nation.
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