There is something perverse about the contest unfolding in Kerala’s Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency. Having toured the length of the country with the promise of fighting the BJP with an alternative, presumably a more liberal, progressive, modern idea of India, what Rahul Gandhi is actually doing is fighting to defeat the much-admired communist and feminist leader Annie Raja in Wayanad.

She has consistently been on the side of precisely the kind of politics that Rahul Gandhi is claiming to profess through his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra. She has been a consistent campaigner against patriarchy, identity politics and majoritarian impulses that guide the BJP.

The latest example of where Annie Raja stands is her stance on Manipur where she is facing a police case for maintaining that the violence in the state was “state-sponsored”. What makes Gandhi’s candidature from Wayanad even more problematic is that the Congress has not yet told us whether he will also contest from his traditional constituency Amethi, from where he has the chance to take on the new-age icon of Hindutva politics – Union Minister Smriti Irani.

The contrast also tells us something about the grand symbolism of Gandhi’s politics and the reality that does not really measure up to it. Going down to Kerala to fight a communist and feminist when you are claiming to fight the BJP is just plain hypocritical.

So if the BJP accuses Congress of cowardice and that Gandhi is running away from a real contest in UP, it would ring true. In the final analysis, the entitled Gandhis are at liberty to choose a “safe” seat to be elected to the Lok Sabha. Is this option available to any other candidate in the Congress apart from the Gandhis?

The top leader of the Congress has no stomach to fight the BJP even in his own pocketborough. It hardly offers an attractive alternative to voters who do not support the BJP.