Thiruvananthapuram | As Kerala goes to assembly polls tomorrow, the ruling Congress led UDF and CPI(M) headed LDF, which had gone hammer and tongs at each other during the electioneering, are keeping their fingers crossed even as BJP is hoping to get a toe-hold in the southern state. A total of 1,203 candidates, including 109 women, are contesting for the 140 assembly seats in which a total of 2.61 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.
Though poll surveys pointed in favour of LDF forming the next government, Congress is equally confident that they would be scripting a new history in Kerala by breaking the pattern of alternate rule and retain power for another five-year term. Main contestants seeking entry into assembly are Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, Marxist leaders V S Achutanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan, IUML leader and Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty, former Finance Minister K M Mani (Kerala Congress-M), BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan, former Union minister O Rajagopal and cricketer Sreesanth.
Some Mollywood actors are also in the fray. BJP has thrown in its hat in the electoral arena after stitching up an alliance with the newly floated Bharat Dharma Jana Sena, a party floated by the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, an organisation of the backward Ezhva Hindu community, seeking to make inroads in the state known for its bipolar polity.
The two month-long hectic campaign in soaring summer heat saw national leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who made three trips to the state to address five meetings, wooing the voters. Modi’s controversial Kerala-Somalia comparison saw the Malayalee sentiment getting hurt, with social media going viral with the hash tag #Po mone Modi# (go off Modi) and the two rival fronts attacking him for the remark. However, BJP defended the Prime Minister, saying people were twisting facts on his remarks and he had only highlighted the plight of the tribal community in the state and his desire to improve their living conditions.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and other party leaders including A K Antony and Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI National Secretary Sudhakar Reddy, Tripura Chief Minister Nirpuan Chakravorty (CPI-M), former Prime Minister Deva Gowda, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar were among the prominent politicians who campaigned for their respective party candidates.
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