No palpable wave as Kerala campaign heads to close

Each side, however, claims that the “under currents” are flowing their way as vast majority of voters are keeping their choice close to their chest.

Before the poll dates were declared, a feeling was strong and widespread that UDF would make a clean sweep as the state has a reputation of alternating between the two coalitions every five year.

The sterling performance of the Congress and its allies in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the civic elections last year gave credence to this thinking. During the campaign, however, the LDF has taken the battle to even the UDF strongholds across the state with Chief Minister and CPM warhorse V S Ahuthanandan leading the coalition from the front.

In 2006, LDF lifted 98 seats in the 140-member House, an exact reversal of the 2001 tally. Most political observers say whichever front wins the poll, the difference in the number of seats might not be as big as the last two elections.

Realising that the going is not that smooth, UDF has also stepped up its efforts to gain power with national leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi addressing campaign meetings in different parts of Kerala.

If Achuthanandan has been the largest crowd-puller of the LDF, Congress stalwart and Defence Minister A K Antony has closely shadowed and countered him to boost the UDF prospects all through the state by addressing well-attended meetings.

This time round, Antony has been unusually unsparing in his attack on Achuthanandan arguing that the 87-year-old leader has not been able to rise above the stature of an opposition leader during his Chief Ministerial tenure and lead the state to progress by seizing on the opportunities before it.

Deflecting the UDF attack, LDF campaign has focused on the “corruption-free record” of the government and its “success” in taking care of social security of all sections of the people. LDF also leveraged the movement launched by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare to attack the Congress.

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