Rahul's Wayanad challenger rakes up Amethi defeat

In a constituency where Rahul Gandhi won by a margin of over 4 lakh votes in 2019, his rival this time, BJP Kerala chief K Surendran who has been fielded as the party’s candidate for Wayanad, said on Monday that the Congress leader would face “the same outcome as in Amethi“.

The upcoming Lok Sabha election in Kerala took an interesting turn with the candidature of Surendran being announced for the Wayanad constituency where Rahul Gandhi is contesting to retain his seat, while the Left Front has fielded senior CPI leader Annie Raja.

The BJP central leadership announced on Sunday the candidature of Surendran to take on two senior leaders of the INDIA alliance, Gandhi and Annie Raja, where the NDA candidate could garner only 7.25 per cent of the vote share in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Talking to the media after the announcement of his candidature, Surendran said Gandhi would face the same fate in Wayanad as he encountered in Amethi last time.

“Wayanad is a constituency where there is a development crisis. Rahul Gandhi has done nothing for the constituency. He will meet the same fate in Wayanad as he encountered in Amethi last time,” Surendran said.

Gandhi had won the constituency last time defeating CPI’s P P Suneer with a margin of over 4.31 lakh votes. An ally of the BJP, Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), had fielded its chief Thushar Vellappally, who could get only 78,816 votes from Wayanad.

“The central leadership has entrusted me with a responsibility. They have asked to take up the fight in Wayanad constituency. The people of Wayanad will definitely ask why the senior leaders of INDIA alliance are contesting each other in the same constituency,” Surendran said.

Meanwhile, Annie Raja said the Left parties do not decide candidature based on opposing candidates. The BJP-led NDA was the last to announce the candidate for the Wayanad seat. The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) had announced Annie’s candidature long before the Congress party.

“We are much ahead in the campaigning. We have reached out to all sections of society. The response of the voters boosts our confidence,” she told the media.

The mountainous district of Wayanad faces multiple issues, including a rise in human-animal conflict, among other factors, which may sway voters. The ruling CPI(M) and the opposition Congress in the state have been seeking to amend the Wildlife (Protection) Act, a Central Act, to deal with wild animal attacks.

The BJP and the central government claim that the provisions are adequate and the state government just needs to implement them properly. Gandhi first contested from the Wayanad seat last time when he stood from Amethi as well. He lost Amethi to BJP’s Smriti Irani.

Roy Walsh

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