The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) managed to squeak out a victory in Kerala, with the Left Democratic Front (LDF) putting up a brave fight in the battle for 140-member assembly.
The UDF won 72 seats, just one more than the 71 needed to form a government. The suspense over the final result kept people and political parties on tenterhooks for over five hours after counting began at 8 am.
The ruling LDF headed by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) got 68 seats. It is is the narrowest ever victory margin in Kerala's political history.
Discuss: The wafer thin victory of the Congress-led UDF in Kerala is a step towards its disintegration. The victory will result in pressure politics by it allies once the front assumes power. Do you agree?
Follow the eventful day's happenings here:
3.55 pm: "We accept people's verdict. We will sit in the Opposition and continue to fight corruption." V S Achuthanandan
3.50 pm: "We (CPM) are the single party which won the maximum number of seats. But we are not going to stake claim to form government since the UDF has the majority. We are not going to indulge in horse trades" - CPM leader Pinarayi Vijayan
3.45: Oommen Chandy: Skilful organizer and strategist
A skillful organiser and shrewd strategist with the man-next-door image, 67-year- old Oommen Chandy has been a key player in the Congress in Kerala for over four decades. Read
3.40 pm: We accept the verdict of the people. As the Opposition, the LDF will stand by the people of Kerala in the next assembly. - CPM leader Pinarayi Vijayan
3: 20 pm: "I don't think the UDF has done poorly. From 40 seats in the present assembly, we have won more than 70 seats now"- Congress leader Rajmohan Unnithan
2:40 pm: UDF wins with simple majority
The Congress-led UDF on Friday managed to wrest power from the ruling CPI(M)-controlled LDF in Kerala with a wafer-thin majority of two seats in the 140-member Assembly, in the closest poll battle in the state in three decades. Read
2.15 pm: Kerala's 'N' factor - Oommen Chandy has it too!
Almost all chief ministers of Kerala in its 54-year history have had one thing in common - the letter 'N' in their names. And Congress leader Oommen Chandy, who is most likely to take over the reins now, will be no exception. Read
2.00 pm: It's both victory and failure for the Congress-led UDF. The front expected to win over 90 seats in the polls. But as trends show, it is likely to get only a simple majority in the 140-seat state assembly.
And it is victory in failure for the CPM-led LDF since they could inflict severe blows on UDF's prospects.
However, we need to wait for the final party position to say who has the last laugh.
1.45 pm: "CPM won't indulge in horsetrading. We won't try to to woo the UDF allies to form the government. We don't believe in foul plays - Govindan Mash of the CPM
1.35 pm: "Oommen Chandy doesn't have any other choice. The Congress can't estrange it allies in the UDF.... Kerala is going to see the worst kind of infighting in the UDF," says Govindan Mash of the CPM while reacting tp Oommen Chandy's statement about the UDF allies.
1:30 pm "We will form govt even if it is a simple majority. We will take our allies into confidence and form govt," says Oommen Chandy who is disappointed at the outcome of the polls.
1.15 pm: Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala wins from Haripad.
12. 50 pm: It is an early retirement for 92-year old Gowri Amma! The veteran politician loses in Cherthala.
12.40 pm: Even If the UDF manages to get power, it will be dogged by by the pressure tactics of the allies, say political observers. They say the Congress will have to yield to the demands of the small parties always. Parties like the Kerala Congress (M) will demand more ministries.
12. 29 pm: T M Jacob of the UDF wins from Piravom, beating sitting MLA M J Jacob.
12.20 pm: Political analysts hint that Kerala may get a hung assembly this time, first time in its history. This may lead to a political anarchy in the state, they fear.
12.10 pm: LDF's Suresh Kurup wins from Ettumanoor, beating sitting MLA Thomas Chazhikadan of the UDF.
12.05 pm: Kerala Congress- B's Ganesh Kumar wins from Pathanapuram
11.45 am: Both fronts say the victory in Ettumanoor constituency (where UDF's Thomas Chazhikadan and LDF's Suresh Kurup are contesting) is crucial. LDF leaders claim their candidate will win here.
11.35 am: Kerala heading for a photo finish
11. 25 am: LDF and UDF leaders are waiting nail-biting for the final result. Yet both groups say they will form the govt.
11. 20: P V Gangadharan loses in Kozhikode
11.10 am: K Muraleedharan wins from Vattiyoorkavu
11. 00 am: Left or right? It has been three hours since the counting started. But Kerala is not giving a clear picture about which of the two fronts is going to rule the state for the next five years.
10. 45 am: Early retirement for 92-year old Gowri Amma? The veteran politician is trailing in Cherthala.
10. 40 am: Lotus won't bloom in Kerala this time. BJP's Jayalakshmi Bhat loses in Kasargod after showing signs of victory at the beginning of counting .
10. 35 am: Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy wins from Puthuppally over 30000 votes. The 67-year-old leader had won all the elections to the assembly since 1970. Read
10. 30 am: UDF's KM Mani retains Pala and creates history by winning for the 12th consecutive term from the same constituency. Mani made it after initial hiccups at the beginning of counting when he faced a tough fight from his opponent Mani C Kappan of NCP.
10: 25 am: Lotus won't bloom in Kerala? BJP's Jayalakshmi Bhat is trailing in Kasargod after showing signs of victory at the beginning of counting .
10. 25 am: Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan wins from Malampuzha; defeats Lathika Subash of the Cong by over 23,000 votes.
10. 20 am: Set back to BJP: O Rajagopal loses in Nemom. He was defeated by CPI(M) MLA V Sivankutty.
10. 15 am : CMP leader V Raghavan loses in Nenmara
10.10 am: Kerala Congress's P J Joseph wins from Thodupuzha
10. 05 am: Suspense continues over the outcome of Kerala elections with neck and neck race between the UDF and the LDF going on even after two hours of counting. Trends also show many veterans struggling in their traditional constituencies.
10. 00 am: Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy leading in Puthuppally over 30000 votes.
9.50 am: Finance Minister Thomas Isaac maintaining a safe lead in Alappuzha
9.45 am: K Muraleedharan is leading in Vattiyoorkavu
9.40 am: Though the UDF maintains a slight lead over the LDF one and a half hour after counting started , the outcome of the election is still not fully clear. The trends show the BJP may open at least one account in the state.
9.20 am: Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan and Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy secure safe leads in Malampuzha and Puthupally constituencies respectively.
The Congress-led UDF has a slight edge over the ruling LDF in Kerala after the first hour of counting of votes. Read
9.10 am: UDF wins 2 seats.
9: 05 am: BJP's Jayalakshmi Bhat leading in Kasargod.
9.00 am: One hour after counting started, the UDF and the LDF have won one seat each.
The first result in the April 13 Assembly polls in Kerala has gone in favour of UDF, with Varkala Kahar of Congress retaining the Varkala segment in Thiruvananthapuram district. Read
8. 55 am: UDF's Gowri Amma trailing in Cherthala
8.50 am: UDF leads in Thiruvananthapuram.
8.46 am: UDF leader Ramesh Chennithala is maintaining a very low lead in Haripad
8.45 am: Will NCP's Mani C Kappan rewrite Pala's history? Kerala Congress's K M Mani is trailing in the constituency.
Congress-led UDF and CPI(M)-led LDF appeared to be locked in a neck and neck race in Kerala Assembly elections for which early trends were available. Read
8.40 am: LDF leads in Palakkad district.
8.39 am: Close fight between LDF and UDF in Idukki district.
8. 35 am: Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy leads in Puthupally.
8. 35 am: UDF leads in Kottayam district.
8.30 am: KC-B's Ganesh Kumar leads in Pathanapuram
8.30 am: BJP all set to open ac account in Kerala? Party leader O Rajagopal leading in Nemom.
8.27 am: UDF's P J Joseph maintains lead in Thodupuzha
8.25 am: Achuthanandan maintains lead in Malampuzha
8.25 am: Kerala Congress's K M Mani leading in Pala
8.20 am: LDF leads in Kannur district
8.20 am: Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan leading in Thalassery with over 5000 votes
8.16 am: UDF leading in three seats in Ernakulam district
8:15 am: First trends show it is a close fight between UDF and LDF
8.10 am: Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan leads in Malampusha for over 1000 votes .
8.10 am: Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan leading in Thalassery with over 3000 votes
8.07 am: The very first trend shows UDF leading in 5 seats while LDF in four seats
7.57 am: Counting begins in Kerala, even a few minutes before 8.00 am!
For Rahul Gandhi, it was a simple question.
Was Kerala ready to elect VS Achuthanandan and have a 93-year-old chief minister in five years, he wondered.
It has been a remark that has come back to haunt the Congress Prime Minister-in-waiting (as most in the party see him) since.
Whether it will prove a costly faux pas for the Congress in Kerala too is a more immediate question whose answer will only be known once the results are out.
As counting day arrives, it must be remembered that Kerala has always been inclined to change governments every five years. But according to at least a few exit polls this time around, this is one election that's too close to call.
The pollsters have had a tough time getting their predictions right ever since the Left redoubled its efforts to win the state (after realising that West Bengal might already have slipped away from their grasp).
And playing a big part in their resurgence has been the Left Democratic Front's (LDF) star campaigner Achutanandan. Yes, that very same 87-year-old popular Chief Minister whom Rahul targeted for being too old...
Will his and his party's efforts pay dividends? We will know on May 13.
What the exit polls say
The Star News projects the Congress-led United Democratic Alliance's victory in Kerala. It expects the UDF to win 88 seats while handing the CPM-led LDF 49 constituencies.
The C-voters exit poll also predicts a clear victory for the UDF.
However, the CNN-IBN survey places LDF marginally ahead, but terms the verdict as too close to call.
The Centre for Forecasting and Research (C fore) and Asianet too have predicted a close election giving the UDF a tally of 72 to 82, LDF a tally of 58 to 68 while also factoring in the possibility that the BJP might open its accounts and win between 0 to 2 seats.
Headlines Today's is another survey that gives the Congress-led UDF a clear majority.
Total number of seats - 140
Important constituencies - VS Achutanandam (Malampuzha), Congress leader Oommen Chandy (Puthupally), Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President Ramesh Chennithala (Haripad)
Poonjar constituency has the most number of candidates - 13.
The constituencies with the least number of candidates are Sulthanbathery, Alathur, Malampuzha and Kaduthuruthy, all of whom have only four each.
The BJP has fielded the most candidates - 138.
The Bahujan Samaj Party also has a high number of candidates - 122 - in the fray.
The two biggies CPI (M) and the Congress have fielded 84 and 81 candidates respectively.
Party-wise list of the rest: AIADMK -3, CPI-27, CPI(MC) - 2, DPSP - 1, and independents and others - 513
In all, 971 candidates are in the fray.