The wait is finally over. Kerala will go to the polls on April 6 along with three other States and a Union Territory after the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the date of Assembly Election.  Apart from Kerala, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Puducherry will cast their votes on the date.

It would be a single-day polling in Kerala, with the counting of votes set for May 2. While the last date for filing nomination is March 19, the scrutiny of nomination will be completed on the next day. The Kerala Legislative Assembly has overall 140 seats, 14 of which reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and two for Scheduled Tribes (ST).

Anticipating the poll in April first week, three major fronts, CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) have already swung into action, launching campaigns, procession discussions and debates across the state. As LDF proudly kicked off its media campaigns with fanfare, highlighting their developmental projects, UDF has responded by levelling different personal and departmental-level allegation against ministers and government departments.

A recent poll survey jointly conducted by C-Fore, a research organisation, and a major Malayalam television channel, has predicted that the ruling party would retain power for the first time in Kerala history. Pollsters tipped LDF to win 72 to 78 seats, with UDF trailing behind with 59 to 65 seats. NDA, which is yet to make its presence felt in Kerala Assembly polls, will have to be content with three to seven seats. The survey gave 41 % vote share in South Kerala and 37% in the region to LDF. The NDA will bag 20% vote share in South Kerala, according to the survey.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is set for another term in the seat after receiving the votes from 39% of respondents in the survey. When 18% of respondents supported former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for the post, 9% of them wanted Shashi Tharoor MP to take that role. LDF had a sweeping victory in the 2016 Assembly poll with a lead of 44 seats over Opposition UDF. As per the stats, CPM took 58 seats, Congress and CPI 22 each and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) 18. For the first time, BJP opened its account winning from Nemam Assembly segment of Thiruvananthapuram.  The last Assembly elections saw 77.35% of 3.4 crore voters come out to vote, the highest-ever in the history of Kerala, deciding the fate of 1, 203 candidates in the fray for 140 seats.

For the then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the election came amid two controversies: solar scam and murder of Dalit woman Jisha. The 13th State Assembly election on April 13, 2011, was one of the closely-contested polls, with the Left going down to the UDF by four seats margin. Veteran CPM leader V S Achuthanandan was the Chief Minister candidate of CPM that term.

This time, LDF, UDF and NDA have already begun campaign Yatras covering all Assembly constituencies in the state. LDF convener A Vijaya Raghavan is leading Vikasana Munnetta Yatra of the front. Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala led the Aiswarya Yatra of UDF that concluded in Thiruvananthapuram this week. BJP’s Vijaya Yatra being led by party state president K Surendran has covered Malabar region.

A Vijayaraghavan said that CPM and other parties of LDF are ready to face polls. “We are hopeful that the LDF government will retain power,” he said. Chennithala has also said that UDF was ready to face the poll and was hopeful to return to the power. Election campaign rallies attended by Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh had given a major boost to BJP in Thiruvananthapuram district last time. The party will rope in senior national leaders across the state this time for the campaigns…