Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) will be the first incumbent coalition to retain power in Kerala in the last 40 years, an opinion poll predicted on February 22.
Since 1980, the state has been voting out the ruling party or coalition.
The survey, conducted by Asianet News in coordination with research agency CFore, predicted that the CPI(M)-led LDF will win a simple majority of 72-78 seats in the 140-member assembly.
The predicted numbers, though lower than the LDF's 2016 tally when it won 91 seats, would allow Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan a second consecutive term.
According to the opinion poll, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) will be restricted to 59-65 seats - higher than its previous tally of 47 seats, but shorter than the halfway majority mark.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is expected to finish third, with three to seven seats. The numbers are higher than the BJP's 2016 tally when the saffron party won only one constituency.
The opinion poll suggested that the CPI(M) has succeeded in recovering the grounds that it lost in the 2019 general elections to the Congress. The UDF had then won 17 out of the 20 parliamentary seats in the state, whereas the LDF was restricted to three.
The Asianet-CFore survey, conducted among 10,396 respondents located in 272 urban centres and 811 rural centres, also found that Vijayan was the most-preferred chief ministerial candidate.
Around 39 percent of the respondents backed Vijayan as the Chief Minister, followed by 18 percent who preferred the return of former chief minister Oomen Chandy. Thiruvananthapuam Congress MP Shashi Tharoor was the choice of 9 percent, whereas, 6 percent backed BJP state president K Surendran.
Among the biggest achievements of the Vijayan government was the distribution of free ration kits when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak, said 34 percent of the respondents. Twenty seven percent hailed welfare pension as the most notable work done, followed by 18 percent who appreciated the overall handling of the pandemic.
The assembly elections in the state are expected to be held in April. The Election Commission is likely to release the poll schedule in the coming days. Along with Kerala, the states of Assam, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, and the Union territory of Puducherry will go to polls in 2021.