After eight days of uncertainty, suspense and drama, Congress on Sunday announced that Rahul Gandhi would be contesting from Kerala’s Wayanad constituency apart from his traditional Amethi seat in Uttar Pradesh. Congress workers in Kerala celebrated the news that their national president Rahul Gandhi would contest the Lok Sabha elections from the Wayanad constituency by dancing, bursting firecrackers and distributing sweets.
KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran said the news of Rahul’s candidature in Wayanad was a proud moment for Keralites. “Rahul is perceived as the leader in the forefront of the battle against fascism. He will win the polls with record majority and it is the most delight moment for a democratic secular force,” said Mullappally Ramachandran.
Congress leaders in Kerala feel that the party president Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from Wayanad constituency in the state could have a cascading effect across the state and help the party-led UDF to win all the 20 seats in the state.
Wayanad shares the borders with two states- Karnataka and Tamil Nadu – and Congress leaders feel that Rahul’s presence will lift Congress’s prospects in the two neighboring states also. A relatively new seat, it was carved out from Wayanad, and parts of Malappuram and Kozhikode districts during the delimitation exercise of 2008.
The Congress’s decision to field Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad is in a sense a surgical strike from the Congress camp. It will well be a game changer for the UDF in this Lok Sabha polls, opine political observers.
The Congress has been winning the Wayanad seat ever since it came into existence in 2009. For Rahul, who faces a challenging task in Amethi where he is up against Smriti Irani of the BJP, Wayanad is an easy choice because Congress believes winning here is a foregone conclusion. In the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress candidate late MI Shanavas had emerged victorious from here. In 2009, his victory margin was 1,53,439 but in 2014 it came down to just 20,870. It must be noted that the Congress has been winning the seat on the strength of the support being enjoyed by the Muslim League, an ally of the Congress, in the constituency.
Wayanad is considered a safe seat for Congress because it comprises a large minority voter base, over 50 per cent, to which the Muslim League has an iron grip. In fact, Ernad, Thiruvambady and Nilambur assembly seats, which fall under the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, have leanings towards the Muslim League. It comprises seven Assembly segments — three from Wayanad district, three from Malappuram district, and one from Kozhikode district.
Rahul Gandhi Wayanad candidature will certainly give a clear advantage for the Congress-led UDF in Kerala, especially in the Malabar region, where it faces tough contests against the CPI-M-led LDF.
Rahul’s candidature from Wayanad is certainly a bad news for the ruling Left, which has been looking to asserting its position in the state especially in the backdrop of the agitation around women’s entry in Sabarimala. It would assert that the Congress is the real alternative to Modi-led BJP, which may lead to affect the LDF badly with the minority communities flocking behind Congress-led UDF.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan repeated his charge on Sunday that Rahul was coming to Kerala to fight the Left, not the BJP, adding that the step sent a wrong political message nationwide. “Rahul has sent a wrong message to the country. He has singled out the secular Left as the primary enemy and not the BJP,” CM Vijayan said.