Wayanad in Kerala likely to be Rahul Gandhi’s second seat, says state Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran
The Congress’s Kerala unit chief said on Saturday that the party’s president Rahul Gandhi is likely to contest from north Kerala’s Wayanad constituency and a formal announcement is expected on Sunday. Central functionaries of the party clarified that there is “a request” that is being “positively considered” by the high command.
The Congress chief is currently the Lok Sabha member from Amethi and the party has announced that he will be the candidate from the constituency in this summer’s Lok Sabha polls too. But several Congress leaders from southern states have recently requested Gandhi to contest from their regions, claiming this will help strengthen the party’s position.
“We have been requesting him (Gandhi) for some time (to contest from the state). When he visited the state in March first week we reminded him again. He is positive about this and a formal announcement will be made soon,” said Kerala Congress committee chief Mullapally Ramachandran.
In New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters that “lakhs of Congress workers and people of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have urged Rahul Gandhi to contest the Lok Sabha from these states” and that the party will take a decision on the issue soon. “We thank them for their effort and also their expression of love and affection. The Congress president will positively consider it.”
All India Congress Committee general secretary and former chief minister Oommen Chandy and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, too, said a strong pitch has been made for Gandhi to contest from Wayanad.
Congress leader T Siddique, widely tipped as the party’s Wayanad contender, told reporters in Kozhikode on Saturday that “it is great honour for me to vacate the seat for the PM-in-waiting...”
The Congress’s Amethi district committee released a statement on Saturday evening saying it supports calls by southern colleagues.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Smriti Irani, who is set to fight Gandhi from Amethi, said the calls for Gandhi to contest from a southern seats was an eyewash. “Vacate the throne Rahul ji for the public is coming,” she said.
Wayanad, a rural district that shares its borders with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, has been a Congress stronghold.
CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran said there was no question of withdrawing the party candidate. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said: “While coming to Kerala he (Gandhi) gives an impression that Left parties are main rivals of the Congress, not the BJP.” Senior Left leaders, asking not to be named, said Gandhi’s contesting from Kerala could create an uneasy situation for the party.