Thiruvananthapuram: Poll pundits consider the civic polls as the semi-final to the grand finale, the Assembly polls in April/May 2021.
The outcome has left the opposition UDF reeling, after the coalition failed to make an edge over the incumbent Pinarayi Vijayan government.
The final tally from the state Election Commission shows the ruling Left's edge in the grassroots, block, district panchayat and the Corporation. The Congress-led UDF is ahead by a whisker at the municipality level.
When it went to campaign, the Congress was expecting big gain in numbers. Following the outcome, the state Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran put a brave face, owing up responsibility of the verdict.
Meanwhile the BJP which in 2015 had 1,200 seats, despite tall claims of doing well, could manage just 1,600 seats.
Chief Minister Vijayan was seen cutting and sharing a cake with the leaders of the allies at his party headquarters, during the first Left Democratic Front meeting.
Vijayan has also announced a whirlwind tour of the 14 districts beginning on December 22, with just a break on Christmas day, to end on the December 30.
Many who closely follow Kerala politics wonder how Vijayan pulled off one of the biggest wins while facing the worst ever scandals: the Kerala gold smuggling case.
Two of his most trusted aides, senior IAS official M. Sivasankar is cooling his heels in the jail since October 2 and C.M.Ravindran, who is seen as his 'man Friday', after ducking three notices, faced hours-long quiz by the Enforcement Directorate and is asked to return on Monday.
Following result, Vijayan said considering previous poll results, whosoever has won the civic polls has gone on to win the Assembly polls, clearly indicating LDF will create history continuing in power this time.
But quick in denial was the Congress party who said the only time in the history of Kerala civic polls, the Congress managed to come first only once and that was in 2015.
The Congress-led UDF was upbeat about civic body results, as the media was having a field day in the gold smuggling case. And UDF was expecting the arrest of the son of CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, to work up the people's anger against the Vijayan government.
And it reached a crescendo when Balakrishnan quit, but when the votes was counted, Chief Minister Vijayan rode to victory, leaving not just the Congress crestfallen. Even Vijayan's associates are said to be yet to come to terms with the victory.
Now all eyes are on the 'unruly' Congress party, where discipline is not a factor and the washing of dirty linen is a norm. The first calls for the Congress to put their house in order has come their own leaders and the allies like the Indian Union Muslim League and the RSP are also probably feeling the heat.
Already cries are louder within the party asking for Congress strongman and Lok Sabha member K. Sudhakaran to take over the reins of the party from Ramachandran.
There is hardly any possibility of a change of guard in the Congress. However, all eyes are on it's most popular leader and two-time former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy--whether he will come out and lead the party from the front.
As Vijayan is riding high and the Congress is hoping against hope, that voters will rise to the occasion as they did in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, when the Congress led UDF won 19 out of the 20 seats.
IANS report with edits and inputs