Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from Kerala’s Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency has not gone down well with the Left parties. Leaders like Pinarayi Vijayan and Prakash Karat said Gandhi’s choice of the second seat indicated that the Congress’ priority was to fight the Left front.

Gandhi will also contest from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. While Wayanad will vote on on April 23 during the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections, Amethi will go to polls on May 6 during the fifth phase. The 2019 General Elections will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the results declared on May 23. Gandhi will be pitted against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Smriti Irani in Amethi. He had defeated Irani by over 1 lakh votes in 2014.

“It goes against Congress’ national commitment to fight BJP, as in Kerala it is Left Democratic Front which is the main force fighting BJP there,” Communist Party of India leader Prakash Karat told ANI. “To pick a candidate like Rahul Gandhi against Left means that Congress is going to target the Left in Kerala. This is something which we will strongly oppose and in this election, we will work to ensure the defeat of Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad.”

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Gandhi should have picked a seat where he would be pitted against the Bharatiya Janata Party. “He’s fighting in one of the 20 constituencies [in Kerala] and doesn’t need to be seen as any different,” he said. “If Wayanad is symbolic of south India, no one in Kerala is going to see this as Gandhi’s battle against the BJP. He should have contested from a constituency where a saffron party candidate is in fray.”

Wayanad is known to be a Congress bastion. The Left Democratic Front has fielded CPI’s PP Suneer from the seat. The constituency will vote on April 23.

NDA likely to change its Wayanad candidate

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance had given the Wayanad seat to its ally Bharatiya Dharma Jana Sangam as part of its seat-sharing deal. However, the BDJS said that if Gandhi contests from Wayanad, it will vacate the seat for the saffron party, reported Hindustan Times.

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

BJP National President Amit Shah said Gandhi has fled to Kerala because he will be defeated in Amethi this time. “I read on WhatsApp that Rahul Gandhi has run towards Kerala, leaving Amethi behind,” Shah said at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday. “Why has he escaped to Kerala? All of you know that this time Rahul Gandhi is done for in Amethi. So he is going to Kerala in a bid to win on the politics of polarisation.”