It’s official: Congress President Rahul Gandhi will contest the Lok Sabha elections from a second seat, Wayanad in Kerala, besides Amethi in Uttar Pradesh
After days of speculation and impatience among some Congress party allies in the United Progressive Alliance, senior Congress leader and former chief minister of Kerala AK Antony announced on Sunday, March 31 at a press conference in Delhi that Congress President Rahul Gandhi would contest the upcoming Lok Sabha election from a second seat, Wayanad in north Kerala.
“The unanimous wish of the people of South India has been accepted by Rahul Gandhi”, said Antony. “The Wayanad seat in Kerala is at a tri-junction with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu so all of us felt it would be the ideal constituency (for Congress President Rahul Gandhi to contest from),” he added.
The announcement comes a few days after Rahul Gandhi confirmed in response to speculation about his standing from Wayanad, that Amethi would remain his ‘karma bhoomi’.
Experts have told The Lede that “If Gandhi chooses (to contest in) Wayanad (considered a Congress bastion), it could mean a clean sweep for the Congress-led United Democratic Front in Kerala. Otherwise, it would end up winning 12 to 14 (of 20) seats as usual”.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan hit out at Congress after the announcement. “If Rahul Gandhi’s primary fight is against the BJP, then why is he fighting elections at Wayanad? At Wayanad Rahul’s primary fight will be against the Left and not the BJP. That will be the meassage he will be sending out. We will fight to ensure that Rahul is defeated and the Left is fully confident about it,” said Vijayan. The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front is the primary challenger for Congress in Wayanad.
On being asked at the Delhi press conference whether Rahul Gandhi was not confident of winning in Amethi and thus contesting on two seats, AICC communications chief Randeep Surjewala hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party, saying “Why did Modi ji leave Gujarat and contest from Varanasi? Was he not confident in Gujarat? These are immature and childish comments. She (BJP’ Amethi candidate Smriti Irani) will complete a hattrick of losses.”
Meanwhile, BJP sources told The Lede that the NDA is considering changing its candidate in Wayanad. It was a seat given to BJP’s Kerala ally Bharat Dharma Jana Sena, but BJP is likely to take back the seat and bring in a strong national figure to fight Rahul.