In a major boost to the Congress poll campaign in Kerala, and indeed the entire South, the Congress President, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, has decided he will contest from the Wayanad Lok sabha seat in the high ranges apart from the Nehru family's traditional stomping ground of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
It is the most significant move of the party because it is for the first time that the Gandhi scion will contest outside of his family bastion in UP and would give the Congress poll campaign a new lease of life in the South. The buzz of Mr. Gandhi's candidature, sweeping across these states for weeks now, was received with much enthusiasm from the cadres. His name from the UP constituency had already been announced in the party's first list of candidates.
Mrs. Indira Gandhi,his grandmother, had contested from contested and won from Chikmagalur in Karnataka in 1978 and from Medak in 1980, soon after Emergency, her seat Rae Bareli. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi had also contested and won from Bellary in Karnataka in 1999, besides Amethi. Both incidentally had been by nalysista s turning points for the party.
The Congress party held a press conference on Sunday with senior Kerala leaders like Mr. A K Antony and Mr. , K C Venugopal, and the party spokesman, Mr. Randeep Singh Surjewala to announce the decision. .
'There was a demand from all the three southern states - Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka - and since Wayanad is like the central point, it has been decided that Mr. Rahul Gandhi will contest from that seat in Kerala,' Mr. Antony announced.
Mr. Surjewala also cited the tactical as well as 'geographical importance' of Wayanad and said that the decision was taken to fight the 'discriminatory' attitude of the BJP towards the southern states, as well as the backward regions. Wayanad is a tribal dominated area.
Asked about Bharatiya Janata Party's claim that Mr. Gandhi might to lose the election at Amethi, Mr. Surjewala said: 'Why doesn’t the BJP ask why the Prime Minister apart from Gujarat also contested from outside? These are immature talks to deviate from more important issues.'
The face of Congress in Kerala, former chief minister Oommen Chandy, broke the news first when he told reporters that Gandhi is positively considering to contest from Kerala on 23 March.
Congress chief in Kerala Mullappally Ramachandran and Congress' opposition leader in Kerala Ramesh Chennithala quickly sprang to confirm the news. Ramachandran said that an official announcement will follow soon from Congress national leaders in Delhi. But the buzz had calmed down after Surjewala told in Delhi the same day that "no decision on this matter has been taken."
Nestling in the Western Ghats, Wayanad’s lush green rolling hills are home to the largest population in Kerala, and is also known for its tourism spots and coffee plantation.
At least for the last two decades, the seat had seen to become a Congress turf, which, remarkably, led Congress spokesperson in Kerala Joseph Vazhakkula recently to say that even a broom with a Congress sign can win from the seat.
Owing it winnability, the two camps on Congress has seen fighting for the seat in 2019 polls, resulting in a cold war between Congress ‘I’ faction and ‘A’ faction in Kerala. The Congress had earlier announced former chief minister and ‘A’ group leader Oommen Chandy's loyalist T Siddique for the seat, upsetting the ‘I’ group faction led by opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala. Siddique has announced his withdrawal from the contest. “Any Congressman would be proud to campaign for Rahul Gandhi, I’ll happily withdraw from the contest," he told reporters.