Rahul Gandhi On Tourist Visa, I Have A Permanent One: BJP's Wayanad Pick

Speaking exclusively to NDTV, K Surendran said voters in Wayanad will follow the lead of their counterparts in Amethi in 2019.

The Kerala BJP chief claimed Mr Gandhi "did not do anything" for Wayanad.

Insisting that the people of Wayanad are ready to repeat what their counterparts in Amethi did in 2019, the BJP's pick as the candidate for the constituency, K Surendran, has said that voters are "fed up" with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as their MP.

In an exclusive interview with NDTV on Tuesday, the Kerala BJP chief also took a dig at Mr Gandhi and said that while the Congress leader travels across the country and even abroad and is in Wayanad on a "tourist visa", he is a local resident and has a "permanent visa".

To a question on why the BJP thinks it has hope in Wayanad this time despite Rahul Gandhi cornering over 64% of the vote in 2019 and winning by a margin of over 4 lakh votes, Mr Surendran said, "In 2109, people wholeheartedly welcomed Rahul ji and supported him (on a) large scale. But, unfortunately, nothing has happened. Rahul ji did not do anything for Wayanad. I am not saying he cheated Wayanad but people in the constituency are totally disappointed, fed up with Rahul Gandhi."

"Such an irresponsible MP. How many times did Rahul Gandhi come to Wayanad? What progress, or project has he brought to the constituency? Over 20% of the population in Wayanad is from the Scheduled Tribes community. What is Rahul Gandhi's contribution? This serious negligence is the talking point in Wayanad," he claimed. 

Pointing out that Wayanad had been given the 'Aspirational District' tag, Mr Surendran said that a committee, under the district collector, discusses various projects for it. He alleged that while Smriti Irani, who is a Union minister, attended the planning meetings twice, Mr Gandhi did not do so even once. 

He also challenged Mr Gandhi to reveal which village he had selected under the Adarsh Gram Yojana and what his contribution there was. "Is there any project by Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad? How much money, apart from the MPLAD (Members of Parliament Local Area Development), has he gathered for Wayanad," the BJP leader asked. 

Number Crunching

On the BJP's arithmetic in Wayanad given that the CPI has also fielded its National Executive Member, Annie Raja, Mr Surendran said, "Annie Raja is a big leader. She has a lot of responsibility in all states and is travelling all over India. Rahul Gandhi is travelling all over India and even abroad, but people of Wayanad actually want a local MP. I am from here. Both Rahul Gandhi ji and Annie Raja ji are on a tourist visa, I am on a permanent visa in Wayanad. I will work for the people of Wayanad, stay with them and solve their problems."

"This is because I am a soldier of PM Modi. How many votes Rahul Gandhi won the last time is not the question. Look at Amethi, which was a Nehru family bastion for decades. The people of Wayanad will do what the people of Amethi did (in 2019)," he claimed. 

In a shock victory, Ms Irani had defeated Mr Gandhi in Amethi in 2019 with a margin of just over 55,000 votes.

In Kerala, however, the Congress had won 15 of the state's 20 Lok Sabha seats while the BJP had drawn a blank. 

Mr Surendran continued, "I lost in the Manjeshwar Assembly seat (in 2021) by a narrow margin. I lost the Patnanamthitta Lok Sabha constituency by 80,000 votes. We are the third front in Kerala but Modi ji's acceptance and popularity in Kerala is growing every day."

"You see the crowd in Wayanad today to receive me. The crowd is not for me, it is for Narendra Modi ji. Modi's guarantee will be the main election point in Kerala this time. We will win many seats in Kerala this time and Wayanad will be one of them," he said.