The Kerala unit of the Congress has asked party chief Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad as his second seat, reports said on Saturday. A formal announcement has not been made yet, but party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said a decision would be made soon.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee chief Mullapally Ramachandran said, “We have been requesting him [Gandhi] for some time [to contest from the state],” reported Hindustan Times. “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.”
Gandhi is a Lok Sabha member from Amethi, where he will contest again this summer. This comes weeks after the Karnataka Congress had also asked Gandhi to stand from its state.
“Southern state PCCs, lakhs of Congress workers and the people of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have urged Rahul Gandhi to contest the Lok Sabha election from these states,” Surjewala tweeted. “Their sentiments are deeply valued and respected.” Surjewala said Gandhi would “positively consider” the request.
Hindustan Times quoted T Siddique, the Congress’ candidate from Wayanad, as saying, “It is great honour for me to vacate the seat for the PM-in-waiting.” The daily also quoted the party’s Amethi district committee as saying that it supports requests made by the southern Congress units.
Wayanad, a district on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border, was held by Congress leader MI Shanawaz who died in 2018, NDTV reported. The seat is considered a strong one for the Congress.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asked what message the Congress was trying to send by fielding Gandhi from the state. “In Uttar Pradesh, SP-BSP alliance is unarguably the main political force, whereas in Kerala it is the LDF,” The Indian Express quoted Vijayan as saying. “Gandhi is not coming to fight the BJP, here, but the LDF [Left Democratic Front],” Vijayan told reporters in Kannur. According to the report, he added that if Gandhi stood from Kerala, it would not have much of an impact on the poll outcome.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Smriti Irani, who will contest against Gandhi in Amethi, said the people of Amethi have driven him out. “Calls requesting him to contest from other seats are being staged as people have rejected him,” she tweeted with the hashtag #BhaagRahulBhaag.