Speculations were cleared when the announcement was made that the Congress president Rahul Gandhi will contest from a second constituency from Kerala. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president has earlier commented that he had suggested Mr. Gandhi to contest from Wayanad as his second seat. The Congress named Mr. Gandhi on its first list as its candidate for Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. And then came the demand by the party units in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu that he contests from these States too.
It has to be noted that Rahul Gandhi has been contesting from Amethi since 2004 Lok Sabha elections in 2014 general elections Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) fielded actor-turned-politician Smriti Irani to contest against Mr. Gandhi. In 2009, Rahul Gandhi was polled with 4,64,195 votes. BSP’s Asheesh Shukla came second. Mr. Gandhi won comfortably with a margin of more than 3,70,000 votes. However, he got 4,08,651 votes but Smriti Irani also got more 3 lakh votes. His victory margin fell to just over 1 lakh votes. His vote share also dropped from 71.78% to 46.71% (-25.07%).
The BJP mocked the Congress. Its president Amit Shah said Mr. Gandhi fled from Amethi to escape accountability. “Rahul Gandhi has fled to Kerala as he fears the Amethi voters will seek an account of his work,” he said at a rally in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also mocked Rahul Gandhi for deciding to contest Wayanad seat in Kerala, claiming that the Congress chief is feeling “uncomfortable, insecure and helpless in Amethi”, his Lok Sabha constituency for three terms in a row. He also accused Mr. Gandhi has fled to a constituency where Hindus are in minority. It is to be noted that population of Hindus in Wayanad is 49.48%.
However, the Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala cleared that the choice of Wayanad was not of political convenience. “Why did Narendra Modi leave Gujarat to contest from Varanasi? Was he in a weak position in Gujarat? These are immature comments,” he said.
The Left parties also questioned the Congress’s commitment to fight the BJP after Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday chose Kerala’s Wayanad as his second seat, where the CPI is in the fray as part of the Left Democratic Front (LDF).
CPI national secretary D. Raja said the decision was devoid of logic. “Who is the Congress’s main political enemy? The Left or the BJP? Mr. Gandhi claims every day that he is fighting chowkidaar and the BJP, but they [the Congress] have chosen to contest against the CPI in Kerala. What message do they [the Congress] want to convey to the entire country,” he asked. The Congress should have instead chosen a seat in Delhi where the BJP is the key opponent, he said.
But the Congress said the decision was meant to send out a message to south Indians that they were deeply valued. “This is not a fight with the Left or the Right. This is a fight to espouse the aspirations of the people of south India, including the people of Kerala. This is a fight to give a befitting reply to those forces that are attacking the culture, language, the way of life and the deep connect between two portions of India,” Mr. Surjewala said.
Wayanad is one of the safest seats for the Congress. M.I. Shanavas of the Congress won it in 2009 and again in 2014. His victory margin in 2009 was over 1.5 lakh votes, but it dipped to 20,270 votes in 2014. The seat has been vacant since his death in November 2018.