After eight days of intense suspense and drama it is official now. Besides Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi will also contest in a second seat from north Kerala’s Wayanad, senior Congress leader AK Antony said in Delhi on Sunday.“All southern states have requested the Congress president to contest from their states.

After enough deliberations he has decided to contest from Wayanad, which shares its borders with two other states, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,” said Antony while announcing this.Glued to television sets for the last five days, upbeat party workers greeted the Congress president’s candidature from the north Kerala constituency by bursting crackers, distributing sweets and taking out rallies in different parts of the state.

Braving the sweltering sun in Wayanad, workers came out into the streets in large numbers to express their joy.Confusion and uncertainty had reigned supreme since last Saturday after former chief minister Oommen Chandy and opposition leaders Ramesh Chennithala had hinted about Rahul Gandhi’s possible candidature from the Karnataka seat.“It is an honor for the state. We will ensure record margin to him,” said DCC president IC Balakrishnan. PCC president Mullapally Ramachandran, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and former CM Oommen Chandy said it was a big honor for the state.“Come here only for filing nominations. Rest is assured. Your presence will be needed in other parts of the country. It is our duty to ensure a historic win from Kerala,” read a poster that appeared in Kalpetta, the headquarters of the hilly district.Also read | 12 things to know about Kerala’s Wayanad, Rahul Gandhi’s second seatClick here for live updates on Lok Sabha elections 2019A party bastion, Wayanad (450 kms north of the state capital) shares the borders with two states- Karnataka and Tamil Nadu – and Congress leaders here feel that Gandhi’s presence will lift Congress’s prospects in the two neighboring states also.

A relatively new seat, it was carved out from Malappuram and Kozhikkode during the delimitation exercise of 2008.In the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress candidate late MI Shanavas had emerged victorious from here. In 2009, his victory margin was 1,53, 439 but in 2014 it came down to just 20,870. The seat is vacant now after Shanavas died six months ago. A favourite getaway, it is also famous for its spices, especially black pepper. The constituency has seven assembly seats and has a sizeable number of SC/ST and minority community voters.Party leader T Siddique, who was a front-runner for the seat, had announced his withdrawal, ceding what is considered a game-changer in the state politics.

While party circles are ecstatic, gloom prevailed in the Left camp.The ruling Left Democratic Front has fielded CPI’s PP Suneer and in NDA the seat has been given to the BDJS (Bhartiya Dharma Jana Sangam), an outfit being floated by the backward Ezhava community). BDJS has already announced that it will give the seat to the BJP if the Congress president contests.Facing inclement weather, Left parties are really worried over Rahul Gandhi’s unexpected entry in Kerala. “While coming to Kerala he gives an impression that Left parties are the main rivals of the Congress, not the BJP,” said chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Senior Left leaders also admitted that his foray his put the Left in a piquant situation. But Congress leaders asked them to withdraw their candidate against him as the Samajwadi Party and BSP did in Amethi and Rae Bareily in Uttar Pradesh. Also read | Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad apart from Amethi, announces Congress
First Published:
Mar 31, 2019 12:04 IST