T'PURAM: Riding on the pro-incumbency wave, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front won the assembly elections with an impressive tally of 99 out of 140 seats.
The LDF tally, which matches the win of A K Antony-led UDF in 2001, becomes remarkable as it is rare for an incumbent government to retain power by winning more seats than the last time.
"We trusted people and people put their trust in us," Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters in Kannur after the results were known. The verdict is a personal victory for Vijayan too as the CPM and CPI had benched many senior leaders including eight ministers to make room for newcomers.
The resounding wins in UDF strongholds like Aruvikkara in Thiruvananthapuram and Azheekode in Kannur underline the theory that votes were cast for the good work and policies of the LDF government rather than the merit of individual candidates.
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The strategy of the UDF to put up a strong fight with young, new faces did not fetch the desired results as voters seemed to have made their choices based on policies.
Pinarayi, who was in his Dharmadom constituency when the counting took place on Sunday, will reach the capital on Monday and submit his resignation to Governor Arif Mohammed Khan by noon. The CPM state secretariat and LDF state committee are likely to meet on Tuesday to decide on the swearing-in ceremony.
A mix of policies in which development and welfare measures were added in right proportion and implemented over the last five years paved the way for the re-election of the ruling front, something which has not happened in the state after 1977.
Right from the implementation of Nava Kerala Mission projects to bring radical changes in health and education sectors and to provide housing for the poor to the organised manner in which the government dealt with Covid crisis, a host of factors could be listed as reasons for the result.
Crises such as Nipah, Ockhi cyclone, 2018 flood, Covid and lockdown were dealt with professionalism and compassion by the government. Pinarayi’s leadership skills were on display during these crises and the leader slowly grew to a cult figure among Keralites. When the CPM decided to seek votes for the Pinarayi government, drifting away from the practice of seeking votes for the party, there was a clear understanding the leader has become a brand himself and could ensure the win.
The comeback of LDF after the humiliating defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls was made possible because of the strategic retreat by the front in the Sabarimala women's entry issue. Local body polls held in November was the testing ground for this strategy and the LDF made huge gains then.
The more accommodative stand assuaged majority communities and a first reading of the assembly poll results makes it clear that the LDF could win good majority of Nair, Ezhava votes along with the minority votes they had mobilised through strong stands taken during issues such as beef ban and CAA Act.
The second Pinarayi government will have to deal with tough challenges from Day One.
The worsening Covid situation and near-empty coffers will pose great challenges to the government. While speaking to reporters on Sunday, Pinarayi sought the support from all including the Opposition to take the state forward during the hour of crisis.