New Delhi: Congress on Sunday announced that party president Rahul Gandhi will be contesting from Wayanad parliamentary constituency in Kerala, in addition to Amethi in Kerala, to further strengthen the unity of North and South.
“For the past so many weeks there have been continuous requests and demands from the Congress workers and our partners, they feel that Rahul Gandhi should contest from one seat from South India. The requests and demands were mainly raised by Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu,” said Antony.
Congress leaders deliberated on the issue. Antony said, “All of us requested Rahul that ignoring the unanimous request from Southern states is not correct. Hence, Rahul must accept the demand. Finally, he has given the consent to contest from Wayanad.”
Highlighting the reasons behind the selection of Wayanad parliamentary constituency, Antony said, “While selecting Wayanad, there were many considerations including the fact that Wayanad connects three states of South India namely Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.”
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, speaking at the same media briefing, accused BJP of attacking traditions and cultures of different regions of India and asserted that Rahul’s representation from the Wayanad seat will further strengthen the unity of North and South.
“At present, the culture, tradition and food habits of different states are under attack by BJP and Modi government. The three states of Southern India hence demanded that there is a connection between North and South, and Rahul Gandhi should contest from the South as well. Hence, Rahul has decided to represent the Southern state for it is an important part of India’s way of life and India’s way forward. He will strengthen the unity of North and South,” added Surjewala.
Responding to a question on BJP’s allegation that the Congres president was not confident in Amethi which is why he is contesting from a second seat, Surjewala said: “Why did Modi ji leave Gujarat and contest from Varanasi? Was he not confident in Gujarat? These are immature and childish comments. First, she (Union Minister Smriti Irani) lost in Chandni Chowk then in Amethi and now she will complete a hat-trick of losses.”
In its first list released on March 7, Congress had announced that Rahul will contest from Amethi.
In 2014, Rahul faced a tough fight from Smriti Irani in Amethi. While the Congress president bagged 4,08,651 votes, Irani polled 3,00,748 votes thinning the victory margin to just over 1 lakh.
On March 15, former Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah had offered the Congress president to contest from Karnataka.
Earlier, former Chief Minister and AICC general secretary Oommen Chandy had requested Rahul to contest from Wayanad constituency.
“We are requesting Congress president Rahul Gandhi to contest from South India. We have requested him to contest from Wayanad constituency. We hope the decision will be positive”, he had said earlier in the month.
The state party unit had also asked Rahul to contest from Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency which is vacant since the demise of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) working president MI Shanavas last year. Shanavas was elected to the Lok Sabha for two consecutive terms, 2009 and 2014. Currently, there are seven sitting Congress MPs in the state.
Prior to the announcement of Rahul’s candidature from the Wayanad seat, Congress had finalised candidates for 12 seats in Kerala. The Congress is contesting on 16 out of the 20 seats in Kerala, leaving four seats for its allies – two seats for the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and one each for Kerala Congress (Mani) and Socialist Party (RSP).
Earlier, Southern state of Karnataka had elected two former presidents of Congress from different parliamentary constituencies of the state.
Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had contested the 1977 General election after Emergency and by-polls of 1978 from Chikmagalur parliamentary seat of Karnataka.
Later in 1999, the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi had also fought her first general assembly elections from Karnataka’s Bellary constituency. She, however, chose to represent Amethi, the other seat that she had contested from in the same elections.