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Sunday, June 16, 2024, 12:16 pm

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Wayanad exemplifies India’s contrasts.

Wayanad
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In 2019, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi chose a sleepy constituency in Kerala as a backup for his home borough Amethi due to uncertainty about his success. Smriti Irani of the BJP defeated the Gandhi scion in Amethi, but Wayanad served as a saving grace. His decision to fight from Wayanad benefited the Congress in Kerala, where the party-led United Democratic Front won 19 out of 20 Lok Sabha seats in 2019.

Wayanad is making headlines again, but for very different reasons. The INDIA bloc is characterised by contradictions, with allies competing in states such as Kerala, West Bengal, and Punjab. Rahul Gandhi is back in the race for Wayanad, despite initial reports of him moving his electorate. His main opponent is CPI leader Annie Raja, a member of the INDIA alliance.

Left leaders have criticised Rahul’s candidature, despite the fact that he is now the MP for the seat. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan accused him of choosing Kerala over the Hindi heartland to avoid confronting the BJP. Annie Raja, who may be running for Lok Sabha for the first time, has accused Rahul of undermining the INDIA coalition by running against her, despite the fact that he holds the seat as the incumbent MP. Five years ago, no such doubts were aired.

The Congress-Left split in Kerala is unusual given their collaboration in other parts of India, particularly West Bengal. In the southern state, tensions are high between opposing parties.  Rahul questioned Vijayan’s escape from jail while other Opposition chief ministers, including Arvind Kejriwal and Hemant Soren, were imprisoned, hinting a compromise with the BJP. Vijayan fired back, accusing Rahul’s grandmother of imprisoning Left politicians during the Emergency. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also attacked the Kerala Chief Minister. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also expressed concern that Rahul Gandhi may abandon Wayanad, like he has done in Amethi.

The Congress has yet to pick a candidate for the constituency, leading to rumours that Rahul may run again. The BJP’s decision to field state president K Surendran in Wayanad has increased the stakes for the party. The BJP is facing a critical election in Kerala, where they have yet to win a single seat. Kerala has played a significant role in the push for 370 seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha.

Hence the regular visits by PM Modi to woo the electorate. The ruling party is expected to launch a campaign in ‘God’s Own Country’ ahead of the April 26 election. The UDF is relying on Rahul Gandhi’s charm to win, with surveys predicting a smaller number of seats than in 2019.
INDIA bloc schisms continue, with Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee accusing the Congress and Left of colluding with the BJP in Bengal. Mamata’s decision to announce candidates for all 42 state seats without contacting her INDIA alliance partners may have been a mistake because to overconfidence.

The split in votes between the TMC, Congress, and CPM may aid the BJP, which is aiming for a higher share of votes and seats in the eastern state to attain its target of 370-plus seats. The BJP has already reached saturation levels in North India and Gujarat. During an INDIA rally in Ranchi, prominent figures including as Banerjee, Sitaram Yechury, and Rahul Gandhi were absent owing to health issues.

The Opposition needs to produce a common manifesto for the upcoming election. Efforts are on to get the Trinamool leader’s support for the paper, but it remains to be seen if the bloc’s differences can be resolved. To overthrow the BJP administration, it’s crucial to present a united front to the electorate, convincing them of the INDIA alliance’s potential.

ABHISHEK VERMA

 

 

 

 


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