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LDF vows to defeat Rahul in Wayanad; BJP says he’s scared

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 31, 2019 Published on March 31, 2019

Congress workers in Thiruvananthapuram celebrate after hearing the news of Rahul Gandhi contesting from Wayanad on Sunday   -  THE HINDU

Cong could gain from consolidation of minority votes

Even as Congressmen in Wayanad, Kerala, erupted in joy on Sunday and as chants of Rahul Gandhi ki jai reverberated from the surrounding hills, the hopes of the CPI(M) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) appeared to have been shattered.

The new josh, injected into the party by the announcement that Congress president Rahul Gandhi would contest from Wayanad — in addition to his pocket burough Amethi — was as overwhelming as it was infectious. Kerala goes to polls on April 23.

Wayanad feels ‘lucky’

Kerala has joined Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in fielding a prospective prime ministerial candidate. The constituency considers itself “lucky” for having been chosen, IC Balakrishnan, president, District Congress Committee, Wayanad, said.

Mullappaly Ramachandran, Pradesh Congress Committee chief, said: “We were originally expecting to win 16 out of the 20 seats. With Rahulji himself as the candidate in Wayanad, we can sweep all 20.”

Wayanad is counted among the most secure seats for the Congress in South India, and therefore, is an easy pick for the party. The delay in announcing the final candidate was as intentional as it was strategic, said observers.

The idea was to keep rival formations — the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the BJP-led NDA — guessing and push the final announcement close to the deadline for nominations.

Dummy candidate T Siddique announced his decision to withdraw after his mentor, former chief minister and senior leader Oommen Chandy hinted about Rahul Gandhi’s candidature last week.

The major allies of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) had earlier indicated that any further delay would be suicidal not just for the Congress but for the UDF as well.

Rival political fronts in Kerala have strongly denounced Gandhi’s candidature. The CPI(M) apprehends serious collateral damage from the development.

Besides being a game changer for the Congress, the decision could mean a lot of trouble for the LDF as Rahul Gandhi’s arrival could also mean consolidation of minority votes in Congress’ favour. The LDF was counting on this consolidation in the post-Sabarimala environment.

Congress needs to explain

On Sunday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan demanded to know whom the Congress was fighting against — the LDF or the BJP.

Senior party leader Prakash Karat said the party would work to ensure Rahul Gandhi’s defeat in Wayanad, a line reiterated by Vijayan here.

The LDF has fielded CPI’s PP Suneer from the seat. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the party needs to explain why its president is seeking to contest from Wayanad.

The NDA is discussing a change in Wayanad, a seat allotted to alliance partner Bharat Dharma Jana Sena. Party president Thushar Vellappally said he has already spoken to BJP president Amit Shah.

Meanwhile, Shah accused Rahul Gandhi of running away to Kerala: “(Rahul) fears that Amethi voters will seek an account of work done by him and his party over the years.”

Published on March 31, 2019
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