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Lok Sabha elections 2019: As Rahul Gandhi heads to Wayanad, BJP looks for formidable opponent

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance has begun scouting for a formidable candidate to pitch against Congress president Rahul Gandhi in north Kerala’s Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2019 15:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,India news,BJP
Congress president Rahul Gandhi(PTI file photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance has begun scouting for a formidable candidate to pitch against Congress president Rahul Gandhi in north Kerala’s Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency.

Earlier in the day, senior Congress leader AK Antony had announced that Rahul Gandhi will be contesting from north Kerala’s Wayanad constituency apart from his current seat Amethi.

The BJP has a seat sharing deal with its ally the Bharatiya Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), a political outfit of the backward Ezhava community. As part of that seat sharing deal, the BJP has given the Wayanad constituency to the BDJS. However, the BDJS has said that in case the Congress president contests from Wayanad, it will vacate the seat for the BJP to field its own candidate to contest against Rahul Gandhi.

“I am in touch with the national leaders. We will take a decision by evening,” said BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai.

Earlier there were speculations Union Minister Smriti Irani will contest from Wayanad also but the party leaders later denied it.

Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that Rahul Gandhi has decided to contest from Wayanad in north Kerala because of fear imminent defeat in Amethi.

Addressing the media, Prasad, who is also the Union minister for information technology and law, said, “Rahul Gandhi is going to contest from Wayanad because his roots in Amethi have begun shaking.”

He said that the reason behind Rahul Gandhi’s move to contest from Wayanad was because of the constituency’s demographic make up.

“The reality of Rahul Gandhi’s extraordinary escape from Amethi is evident because of the ethnic profile of Wayanad where 49.4 per cent of the population is Hindu and the rest are all minorities. The seven assembly seats within Wayanad are all minorities. If Rahul Gandhi has so much love for South India, he should have chosen some other seat,” Prasad said.

Also read | Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad apart from Amethi, announces Congress

Hinting that the Congress president’s candidature from Wayanad was because the party was worried that he may lose from Amethi, Pillai said that the BJP would ensure a tough fight for Rahul Gandhi.

“Rahul Gandhi is running around for a safe seat fearing defeat in Amethi. We will not ensure an easy victory for him here,” he said

“The BJP will field a strong candidate in Wayanad,” Pillai said.

The BJP is likely to announce its candidate from Wayanad later in the evening on Sunday.

So far, the party sources have ruled out the entry of Union minister Smriti Irani in Wayanad. A final decision will be taken by the national leadership, sources within the party said.

Meanwhile, the BDJS candidate from Wayanad will be shifted, said its leader Thushar Vellapally.

Also read | Left unhappy with Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad outing, says will ensure defeat

First Published: Mar 31, 2019 13:41 IST