Putting speculations to rest, the Congress Sunday announced that party president Rahul Gandhi will be contesting from Kerala’s Wayanad parliamentary constituency in addition to Amethi in Uttar Pradesh .
The decision was announced by senior party leader AK Antony at a press conference. “Rahul ji has given his consent to contest from two seats. I’m happy to inform you that he will also contest from Wayanad in Kerala,” AK Antony said.
The decision drew sharp criticism from the Left, who accused the Congress of losing the plot before the Lok Sabha elections and swore that it would work towards defeating Rahul Gandhi.
“It goes against the Congress’s commitment to fight the BJP, as in Kerala it is the Left Democratic Front (LDF) which is the main force fighting BJP there,” Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Prakash Karat told the media.
“To pick a candidate like Rahul Gandhi against Left means that the Congress is going to target the Left in Kerala. This is something which we will strongly oppose and in this election. We will work to ensure the defeat of Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad,” Prakash Karat added.
Wayanad is one of the most sought after seats in Kerala as it is considered safe seat for the party. However, the Congress attributed the decision to fight the Bharatiya Janata Party’s discriminatory attitude towards southern states.
The BJP was quick to take a dig at Rahul Gandhi with party president Amit Shah saying that Rahul had run away, anticipating defeat in Amethi.
“Why has he escaped to Kerala? All of you know that this time Rahul Gandhi is done in Amethi. So he is going to Kerala in a bid to win on the politics of polarization,” Amit Shah said at a rally in Uttar Pradesh.
Wayanad seat lies in the northern part of the state, was carved out in 2009after delimitation and shares border with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It has a high Muslim population and is considered a Congress stronghold. The party is hoping to consolidate its vote down south with Rahul’s candidature from Wayanad.
The Congress has rubbished the BJP’s attack as immature. “Why did Modi ji leave Gujarat and contest from Varanasi? Was he not confident in Gujarat? These are immature and childish comments. Smriti Irani will once again suffer a loss,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
However, the BJP is all set to not let the Congress have it so easy. As part of the seat-sharing in Kerala it had given the seat to its ally Bharatiya Dharma Jana Sangam (BDJS). Although the BDJS has already stated that if Rahul Gandhi contests from Wayanad, it will vacate the seat for its senior partner in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Wayanad will vote on April 23 and Amethi on May 6. The counting of votes for the country will be held on May 23.