- Rahul Gandhi to contest second seat from Kerala's Wayanad
- Congress is going to target Left, will strongly oppose: Prakash Karat
- Wayanad, which votes on April 23, has been a Congress stronghold
Rahul Gandhi's candidature from Kerala's Wayanad seat has seriously offended the state's ruling CPM, which is part of the opposition alliance that's taking on the BJP in the coming national elections. While there has been no official reaction from the CPM's state unit, senior party leader Prakash Karat said that they would "work to ensure the defeat of Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad". The CPM-led Left Democratic Front has already fielded CPI's PP Suneer from the seat.
The Congress announced its party chief's decision today, but pitched it as a move to counter what it called the Narendra Modi government's efforts to create a "deep divide" between the north and south India.
This is a fight against those forces who "seek to divide India based on colour, language, based on way of life, based on food habits and based on the clothes you wear", said senior party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala.
"That's why Rahul Gandhi said 'I will represent Amethi but I will also represent the southern states for they are an important part of India's way of life and India' way forward'," he added.
But the CPM was not mollified. "The decision of Congress to field Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad shows their priority now is to fight against Left in Kerala. It goes against Congress' national commitment to fight BJP, as in Kerala it's LDF which is the main force fighting BJP there," Prakash Karat said.
He added, "To pick a candidate like Rahul Gandhi against Left means that Congress is going to target the Left in Kerala. This is something which we will strongly oppose and in this election we will work to ensure the defeat of Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad".
Last week, after news that the Congress was considering a second seat for Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has asked the party to clarify what message it was sending out. If Mr Gandhi contested from the state, it would mean that he would be fighting the Left Front and not the BJP, he said.
The Congress and the CPM has been at loggerheads in Kerala, which, with metronomic regularity, elect them in alternate terms. There is a huge rivalry in Bengal as well, which stopped a state-level alliance between the two parties despite both being currently out of power.
Wayanad, which would vote on April 23, has been a Congress stronghold for decades. Formed after the delimitation exercise of 2008, it has been vacant since last year following the death of its lawmaker, MI Shanavas.