Oommen Chandy, Congress’ stalwart Christian leader, is likely to be the next chief minister as the UDF cruises to 72 seats in an assembly of 140 seats.
Chandy, who was facing competition for the top job from Ramesh Chennithala — a Nair leader from Congress — has strengthened his claim to the top job by winning by a whopping 30,000 votes.
In comparison, Chennithala was above water only by around 350 votes during most of the counting, though he won by a few thousand votes in the end.
Congress’ UD front gets most of its votes from Christians, Muslims and Nairs — leading to tussle between these community associations to nominate ‘their’ candidate to the top job.
Chandy had been projected as the undisputed Chief Ministerial candidate, but was forced to defend himself after allegations of corruption were raised by the opposition left parties.
Ramesh, who has been in Delhi for several years, was flown in to the state in anticipation of the election in what has been seen as an effort to make sure the Nair voters remained with the Congress party.
Nairs, who have generally been well to do, have an aversion to the Communists in general, but have been wooed strongly by BJP, trying to open its account in Kerala. The party is yet to get a single seat in the state.
BJP, however, has had better luck with non Nair, Non Ezhava Hindus — such as carpenters, goldsmiths etc., according to a recent Asianet CFORE survey.