CPM slams Rahul, vows to defeat him in Wayanad

Thiruvananthapuram: The Communist Party of India (Marxist), the main force in Kerala’s ruling Left Democratic Alliance (LDF), yesterday reacted sharply to the Congress’s announcement that party president Rahul Gandhi would contest from the state’s Wayanad parliamentary constituency and vowed to defeat him.

CPM’s former chief Prakash Karat said the Congress’s decision went against its “stated commitment” to fight the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“In Kerala, it is the LDF, which is the main force that can fight the BJP. And Rahul Gandhi is going to Kerala to fight the LDF, which means we have to take on the (Congress-led) United Democratic Front (UDF), of which he will be a candidate.

“The UDF consists of not only Congress but Muslim League and other parties which have a dubious reputation. And we shall work to defeat the UDF in all constituencies including Wayanad,” Karat said in a video message.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also said that Gandhi’s decision was not “symbolic”.

“In Kerala, as we all know, the fight is between the Left and the Congress, with the BJP not in the picture at all. He should have fought against the BJP. Now that he has decided to contest from Wayanad, we, the Left will ensure his defeat,” Vijayan told said in Thiruvananthapuram.

Kerala CPM secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said Gandhi’s move will ensure a Left victory in all the 20 seats in the state.

“He is coming here because he is not confident of his win in Amethi. And the Left will show Gandhi what our power here is,” he said, adding that the Left was confident of repeating its 2004 performance when it won 18 of the state’s 20 seats.

The Wayanad seat has been allocated to the Communist Party of India (CPI) and its candidate P P Suneer said that he was not alarmed by the stature of his opposing candidate.

“The candidate does not matter, as elections are fought on issues. By now I have already completed three rounds of my campaign and I am on a strong footing as the backing that I have is of the Left forces, which has a good chemistry with the electorate in the Wayanad constituency,” he said.

Gandhi’s decision to contest from Wayanad was greeted with excitement in Malappuram, the stronghold of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the UDF’s second biggest constituent in Kerala – and where three of Wayanad’s assembly segments fall in.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has given the Wayanad seat to ally Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), ridiculed the Congress president.

“It’s a shame for the Congress chief to run away from Amethi and seek solace in the arms of the IUML, which is strong in Wayanad,” said Kerala BJP president P S Sreedharan Pillai.

Senior Congress leader and former defence minister A K Antony earlier in the day announced Gandhi’s decision to contest from Wayanad.
Making the announcement in New Delhi, Antony said Gandhi was not keen to contest on a second seat. “But there was tremendous pressure from south Indian states, the Congress Party as well as from the allies that he should contest.”

Wayanad became a Lok Sabha constituency in 2009, and M I Shanawaz of the Congress won it that year by a margin of 153,439 votes. However, his margin dropped to 20,870 in 2014, and last year he died after a long illness. The seat has been lying vacant since then.
Considered a safe seat for the Congress, there was a scramble between the party’s various factions for a ticket and former chief minister Oommen Chandy had even managed to swing it in favour of his close confidante T Siddique.

However, Chandy was the first to speak of the possibility of Gandhi contesting from Wayanad last week.

Wayanad will vote on April 23 and Amethi on May 6.