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Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Kerala's tradition of change
Kerala strikers
Kerala has a tradition of left-wing activism
By Venkitesh Ramakrishnan in Cochin

Kerala's Communists may be in for an upset.

If history repeats, the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) may well defeat the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Current party strength
LDF 81 seats
UDF 57 seats
With the sole exception of the 1977 election, the state's voters have always kicked out the ruling party.

Electioneering this time round has been marked by ups and downs for the two alliances.

In the first week of April, a UDF victory was considered a certainty because an anti-incumbency mood was believed to have been predominant across the state.

Congress in-fighting

But in-fighting between rival factions of the Congress party - led by two former chief ministers K Karunakaran and A K Antony - has damaged that certainty.

However, UDF leaders are hopeful that the public's desire for change will overshadow the negative impact of factional infighting.

For its part, the LDF has carried out its election campaign with systematic efficiency.

After finalising its list of candidates in the last week of March, the LDF brought out its manifesto in early April and its workers have been actively campaigning across the state since then.

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has no members in the present state assembly, is also in the fray, projecting itself as an alternative to the state's traditional two-party political domain.

The BJP, with its support base firmly in the Hindi-speaking belt of northern India, has always been an outsider in the south.

It is hoping that in Kerala that may change.

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See also:

15 Mar 01 | South Asia
Indian opposition capitalises on crisis
14 Mar 01 | South Asia
Scandal threatens Indian coalition
01 Mar 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: India
01 Mar 01 | South Asia
Timeline: India
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