Since 1977, Kerala has alternatively voted the LDF and the UDF to power in the Assembly elections.

Stylised image of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan smiling waving his right hand against the backdrop of people and party flag
news 2021 Kerala Assembly Election Thursday, March 11, 2021 - 19:53

Three prominent television channels — Asianet News, 24 News and Times Now-CVoter — have projected that the CPI(M) and its Left Democratic Front (LDF) will win the 2021 Kerala Assembly elections. If these projections came to pass, it would be an unprecedented event in the history of Kerala Assembly elections since 1977 — that of an incumbent government coming back to power.

Since 1977, Kerala has always alternatively voted the two major fronts — the CPI(M)-led LDF and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) — to the Assembly, although it is a varying pattern for the Lok Sabha elections. In the 1977 Kerala Assembly election — the polls after the Emergency and the first election after the delimitation where the number of Legislative seats increased from 133 to 140 — the United Front secured a majority. The front was led by the Indian National Congress (INC) and Communist Party of India (CPI), and K Karunakaran became the Chief Minister.

The subsequent election, the sixth Kerala Assembly election in 1980, set the stage for the current major political fronts in the state — the LDF and UDF — which were formed from the constituent parties of the United Front. In the 1980 election, the LDF formed the government under the leadership of EK Nayanar.

In 1981, AK Antony’s Congress (A), KM Mani’s Kerala Congress (M) and Janatha (Gopalan) withdrew their support to the government and joined the UDF. As a result, the EK Nayanar government lost their majority in the Assembly, and Kerala went to polls in 1982. The people of Kerala voted the Congress-led UDF to power in the 1982 Kerala Assembly elections, with K Karunakaran as its Chief Minister.

The trend continued every five years — LDF in 1987 (EK Nayanar government); UDF in 1991 (Karunakaran government); LDF in 1996 (Nayanar government); UDF in 2001 (AK Antony and then Oommen Chandy government); LDF in 2006 (VS Achuthanandan government); UDF in 2011 (Oommen Chandy government); and LDF in 2016 (Pinarayi Vijayan government). 

The incumbent LDF government has a series of hurdles ahead of it, including navigating the series of scams, and the discontent among several party members over the candidate list for the 2021 Kerala Assembly elections. The Congress-led UDF, too, faces similar quandaries, primarily over a lack of leadership, seat-allocation and allegations of groupism within the party. 

As Kerala goes to vote on April 6, the results on May 2 will evince which front will ultimately come to power. 


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