After almost a week of uncertainty, Congress leader and former defence minister A.K Antony on the 31st of March announced that Rahul Gandhi will be contesting from Wayanad in Kerala as well as Amethi in U.P. Later, Randeep Surjewala, the Congress spokesperson also confirmed the same.
Rahul Gandhi’s opponents include BJP leader Smriti Irani in Amethi and the LDF’s candidate, P P Suneer in Wayanad. The NDA’s ally, BDJS in Wayanad will field their president Thushar Vellappally against Rahul Gandhi, although this might change.
Wayanad in Kerala enjoys a strategic geographical advantage due to its location at the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Wayanad is a Congress stronghold. So, they hope to influence the politics of all three states down south following a win for Mr. Gandhi.
In Wayanad, Congress (UDF) and CPI(M) (LDF) are the two great political forces. The LDF, who mostly support the UPA at the national level aired their concerns regarding the optics of Rahul Gandhi contesting against the CPI(M) instead of focusing on defeating BJP at the center. PM Modi accused Rahul Gandhi of running away to a Hindu minority constituency and of being worried about Smriti Irani’s growing popularity in Amethi.
The Sabarimala issue will definitely be a major talking point during Rahul Gandhi’s campaign in the south. The chances of RaGa winning the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat is high as UDF had won the constituency’s seat in the last two Lok Sabha elections.