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Lok Sabha elections 2019: Focus on Rahul’s first south India election

Gandhi is locked in a three-cornered contest with Communist Party of India’s PP Suneer and National Democratic Alliance’s Thushar Vellapally. Gandhi filed his nomination papers on April 4, and campaigned in the constituency on April 17, but his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra spent two days in Wayanad.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 24, 2019 07:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
India,Karnataka,Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
Wayanad is a minority-dominated constituency with Muslims accounting for 32% of the population, Christians 22%, and Hindus, 46% ( according to the 2011 census).(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

Once a little-known constituency in north Kerala, Wayanad has become headline material after Congress president Rahul gandhi decided to make it his second seat (after Amethi), so as to improve the Congress’ chances in Kerala and all of southern India.

Gandhi is locked in a three-cornered contest with Communist Party of India’s PP Suneer and National Democratic Alliance’s Thushar Vellapally. Gandhi filed his nomination papers on April 4, and campaigned in the constituency on April 17, but his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra spent two days in Wayanad.

Gandhi’s rivals have campaigned vigorously and labelled him a ” visitor”. They have also claimed that if he wins, he will retain Amethi, necessitating another election in Wayanad. Gandhi has allayed these fears saying his association with the new constituency will be permanent.

Wayanad is a minority-dominated constituency with Muslims accounting for 32% of the population, Christians 22%, and Hindus, 46% ( according to the 2011 census).

Wayanad is one of the more backward districts in the state, and some of these issues also figured in the campaigns of the various candidates. For instance, the nearest large hospital is 75 km away, in Kozhikode. The infant mortality rate is higher than the state average. The prices of cash crops have dipped, crippling the farm sector.

Wayanad is often called Kerala’s Vidarbha, because many farmers (18 in 2018 according to state government figures_ have committed suicide. It is the only district in the state which has a presence of Maoists; two months ago a top leader of the Maoists, CP Jaleel, was shot dead in an encounter.

During his rally on April 17 Gandhi promised to address most of these problems. Congress leaders say they are only concerned about Gandhi’s victory margin and are hoping for a record margin of over 300,000 votes in a constituency with 1.3 million voters.

First Published: Apr 23, 2019 23:51 IST

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