The 2011 election results stayed unpredictable till the last moment, with both the coalition Fronts claiming a possible victory by a winning majority. The outcome was to be a pointer as to how far the image of the two rival leaders had gone into the psyche of the mainstream for either of them to be declared the winner. Previous election results have shown that none of the governments in Kerala has been given a second consecutive chance of ruling the state.
LDF chances of winning mostly relied on Chief Minister V.S Achuthanandan’s image. The Comrade and several of his Cabinet colleagues, including Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Thomas Isaac, A.K. Balan, G. Sudhakaran, M.A. Baby and C. Divakaran, and Speaker K. Radhakrishnan were among those who were re-elected with generous victory margins.
Eventually, although the LDF lost power on a slender margin of four seats, surprisingly, the party had received a bigger share of the seats in nine of the total fourteen districts in the state, while the UDF could garner only five.
Achuthanandan set a record victory in his constituency of Malampuzha in Palakkad district by upsetting rival Lathika Subhash by securing 23,440 votes. However, his party failed to retain its strong holds in the district and suffered a setback, winning only seven seats out of the total twelve, failing to obtain a simple majority, as against the nine seats captured in 2006.
The Chief Minister's spirited state-wide campaigns against social causes including endosulfan and other public initiatives and drives against corruption did contribute towards a positive build up of his image, especially in the backdrop of the nation-wide corruption scene being brought to the fore in recent times.
Not surprisingly, the Marxist stalwart managed a hat-trick of wins from the red bastion Malampuzha with a margin of over 23,000 votes. Most of his cabinet colleagues also scored a win, barring a few ministers who failed to make it, like N.K.Premachandran, Kadannapally Ramachandran and V.Surendran Pillai.
LDF managed to retain its hold over the northern districts except Malappuram, where the Muslim League held its sway.
In 2006, the victory had been more conspicuous, with the LDF gaining 98 seats while the UDF tally was 42.
The V.S. factor
It’s a known fact that in the course of his crusade against corruption, 87-year-old CPM veteran and ex- chief minister V.S.Achuthanandan had earned some enemies and got into the bad books of his rivals and detractors including a few of his own colleagues.
On reflection, it can be said that com.Achuthanandan, with his strong leadership qualities and a clean image, was a popular and charismatic leader of the masses and a real asset to the CPI(M) who almost made it to victory a second time and would have created history if only the party factions had stuck together ignoring internal rifts and dissent that largely contributed to creating an anti-govt stand. On the other hand, UDF’s hair-line victory margin gives it no cause for jubilation.
As an opinion column pointed out, his position was akin to that of Sachin Tendulkar, who despite being part of the losing team, would be entitled to be the man of the match for scoring a century.
The outgoing chief minister chaired his last meeting in the Cabinet on May 11, 2011. A beaming Achuthanandan faced the media sportively, made a satisfactory remark on the the voter strength garnered by his party and reiterated his stand in the Opposition to continue to fight for social justice. Thanking his colleagues and activists for their loyalty and support, the comrade, in his typical ‘V.S.manner’, is said to have signed off with an humble and cheerful ‘namaskaram’.