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The Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala scripted history by retaining power in the assembly polls, bucking a four-decade-old trend of swinging fortunes between the LDF and Congress-led United Democratic Front.

The LDF won with a brute majority, bagging 99 of the 140 seats. The new state cabinet is likely to be sworn in on Tuesday, party insiders said.

It is a personal victory for Vijayan and will strengthen his position in the party, political observers said, adding that his acumen and deft handling of the challenges has now made him the undisputed leader.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury lauded the people of the state for reposing their faith in the government.

“The country is facing twin dangers, livelihood issues arising out of the pandemic, and a threat to our secular and democratic values. People of Kerala gave us immense support and we will uphold these values stronger," Yechury said.

The LDF government survived several corruption allegations, including the gold smuggling case, the arrest of party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son in a drug bust and money laundering charges, besides allegations of bac-kdoor entry of CPI(M) workers in government services.

The CM steered the coalition with aplomb, relying on his “trust quotient" to sweep the results in its favour, said analysts. Vijayan remained the main ‘trouble shooter’ and ‘captain’ for party workers.

“The CM has cultivated a herd mentality and branded himself as an able leader who can steer the state through all crises. The party meticulously highlighted his brand and people naturally developed an inclination towards him," said political theorist and writer J. Reghu, adding that more than an ideological churning, it is a personal victory of Vijayan.

In the past five years, Kerala faced two consecutive floods (2018 and 2019) and then the covid outbreak, but Vijayan was the person to go to when it came to assurances that the government was with the masses at their time of suffering. The government loosened its purse strings and ensured free food and delivered welfare schemes on time to gain people’s trust. Its handling of the pandemic also went down well with the voters, said senior journalist N.K. Raveendran.

The Opposition Congress party said it accepts the people’s verdict with humility.

“It was least expected. We will go through factors that led to our defeat and take corrective steps," said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.

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