Wayanad Apr 1: With All India Congress Committee (AICC) President Rahul Gandhi decided to contest from Wayanad Lok Sabha Constituency in Kerala apart from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, it has undoubtely attracted the National attention.
With the changed political scenario, the Wayanad Lok Sabha Constituency is likely to witness a high-profile battle of ballots and is all poised to take sharp political twist and turns. On the other hand, the NDA will sooner-than-latter will replace its declared nominee with a heavyweight obviously in tune with the changed political scenario.
Undoubtedly, the constituency has attracted national attention, thanks to the presence of Mr Gandhi in the fray, as a candidate of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
The "Rahul Effect" in all probabilities is likely to spread its vibrancy to other constituencies in Kerala. And, If the claims of the Congress leadership could translate true, the "effect" could well stretch beyond to the neighbouring States as well, thanks to the geography of the constituency having borders with the States of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The presence of Mr Gandhi has forced the NDA, which has fielded a candidate of the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), an ally of the BJP in Kerala faction of the NDA, replace its candidate in Wayanad with a candidate having a bigger profile, if not matching with that of Mr Gandhi. And the vigour of the fighting spirit would further scale up with the choice of the candidate by the NDA to pit against the tall and charismatic figure like Mr Gandhi.
Though, the NDA is quite unlikely to make any upset in the constituency, the stature of its nominee they chose to pit against Mr Gandhi would invariably shape up the fight between more-or-less equals which ought to increase the vibrancy of the constituency. A big name, perhaps from the Hindi belt, could attract more votes in BJP’s kitty. But it is certainly unlikely that any leader from the Kerala faction of the NDA could tilt any balance in Wayanad. And a big name from BJP would invariably change the nature and character of the fight in the constituency, with the NDA, vis-a-vis BJP, taking on the Congress-led UDF. And till Sunday morning, when A K Antony confirmed the news of Mr Gandhi’s candidature in Wayanad, the fight has been a conventional one between the UDF and the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).
The electorate of the constituency comprises seven assembly constituencies spread in three districts of erstwhile Malabar. It comprises of Mananthavady, Kalpetta, Sulthan Battery (in Wayanad district), Thiruvambady (Kozhikode district) Nilambur, Wandoor and Eranad (in Malappuram district).
But, is the constituency so safe a place as the Congress leadership map it politically while opting Mr Gandhi to contest as his second seat. Probably the history of the LS constituency being retained by the UDF since for long could well justify script a positive story. But, the profile and history of the seven Assembly constituencies of the LS constituency is not that promising a picture for the UDF as it ought to have been as to consider it as a "safe seat" for the AICC Chief.
Though the LS seat has been steadfast with the UDF since for years, the political picture of 2014 LS election and the 2016 Assembly poll is not that a so-promising a one for the UDF. There has been a sharp and phenomenal dip in the margin of the Congress nominee, the late M I Shanavas which declined from 1, 53,439 votes in 2009 to 20,870 in 2014 votes. The decline in percentage of votes secured by the UDF nominee was 8.66 percent, plummeting from 49.86 in 2009 to 41.20 in 2014.
The LDF on the other hand increased its percentage of vote share from an earlier 31.23 to 38.92 percent, a comfortable increase of 7.69 percent. The Mananthavady, Kalpetta, Thiruvambady and Wandoor are represented by the UDF and Sulthan Battery, Ernad, Nilambur by the LDF in the Kerala Assembly.
However, the large number of Muslims voters in Malappuram district and the Christian votes in Kozhikode are considered pro-UDF. The confidence of the UDF has its count on the sentiments against the BJP which would motivate the electorate chose Mr Gandhi instead of the LDF candidate.