For the first time, Congress president Rahul Gandhi will be contesting from two Lok Sabha seats. Besides his bastion in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi, Gandhi will also be contesting from Kerala’s Wayanad.
The Congress on Sunday announced that their 48-year-old chief has given his “consent” to contest from two seats.
“Rahul ji has given his consent to contest from two seats, very happy to inform you that he will also contest from Wayanad in Kerala,” Congress leader AK Antony announced at a press conference in New Delhi.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that Gandhi said that he cannot leave Amethi because of its “ties to his family”.
“Under the current circumstances, when the Modi government is attacking the culture, tradition, food habits, language, lifestyle, etc of different states, three southern states – Kerala, Tamil Nadu Karnataka – requested that Rahul Gandhi ji should contest from one of the seats here,” he said.
Underlining why Gandhi picked Wayanad, Surjewala said that it is at a unique geographic location which makes it a “representative of three states – Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka”.
Wayanad is considered a safe seat for Congress in Kerala. Since its formation as a Lok Sabha seat, Wayanad has been the constituency of Congress leader MI Shanawaz. It has, however, been lying vacant since his death in 2018.
While Gandhi, a sitting MP from Amethi, will be facing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union minister Smriti Irani in Amethi, his BJP challenger at Wayanad is yet to be announced.
The decision to field Gandhi from Wayanad comes days after All India Congress Committee (AICC) General secretary Oommen Chandy said that Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) has requested Gandhi to contest from one of the seats in Kerala.
Kerala Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran had earlier reportedly said that Rahul Gandhi has agreed to contest from Wayanad parliamentary seat.
The Congress was unable to finalise its candidate for Wayanad in Kerala allegedly due to pressure from factions. Two party MLAs had urged Gandhi to contest from the Lok Sabha constituency.
At Kottayam, the leader of opposition in the State Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala said he had requested Gandhi to contest from Wayanad when the Congress president visited Kerala to launch the party’s election campaign.
“Rahul Gandhi should contest from Wayanad. The concept of India will be strengthened if the next Prime Minister of the country represents South India. Kerala is a fertile land for the idea of neo-politics put forward by Rahul,” Thrithala MLA VT Balram wrote in his Facebook post.
It was seconded by Azhikode MLA KM Shaji, who said Kerala is the best place for “the commander of the political army fighting the fascists in the country.”