Fighting the ally in Wayanad was Congress’ call, says Annie Raja

The veteran CPI leader sees her candidacy from Wayanad in the context of ideological resistance.
Last Updated : 19 April 2024, 09:37 IST
Last Updated : 19 April 2024, 09:37 IST

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Kalpetta: CPI national executive member Annie Raja sees her candidacy from Wayanad for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in the context of ideological resistance. There is the larger adversary, the BJP. Then, there is the local subplot: a face-off with I.N.D.I.A. partner Congress which sits in opposition in Left-ruled Kerala. She is taking on Rahul Gandhi who won the Lok Sabha constituency in 2019 by over 4.31 lakh votes. But what, really, is the Congress leader saying by even contesting from a constituency with no significant BJP presence, she asks. The veteran leader spoke with DH in the middle of a campaign she said was peaking despite a long, punishing summer.

What are Wayanad’s voters seeking from you?

They are looking at me with hope. A question I keep hearing is — “Will you be here (even after the election)?” That tells you a lot about what they’ve been missing. I don’t need to be introduced to the people; my initial years in public life were here — in Kannur, Malappuram, Wayanad, and the neighbouring regions.

How are you addressing questions about continued apathy to development-related issues in the constituency, even the district, irrespective of parties in power?

I’m from a family that has experienced issues like the man-animal conflicts that have caused distress to the farmers here. It’s to be noted that since the formation of the constituency, the Congress-led UDF has won all the three elections.

Rahul Gandhi says that an MP has limitations when the party is not in power in the Centre or the state. How do you respond to this argument?

Projects like the Nilambur — Nanjangud railway line cannot be pursued at the state level. Similarly, on the issue of man-animal conflicts, the long-term solution involves amendment of laws that needs to be taken up in the parliament. How many times has the MP raised the constituency’s issues in the parliament? If not being in power is his excuse, it shows political bankruptcy.

Has Wayanad thrown up an uneasy situation for the national opposition, considering that the Left and the Congress are together in the I.N.D.I.A. bloc?

It was the Congress which decided to field Rahul Gandhi here. There were options — the Left is in alliance with the Congress in Tamil Nadu; in Telangana, the CPI is one of the Congress’ allies. It’s for the Congress to explain the decision to pick Kerala. Is it just about winning one seat and being of no real value to the constituency? What is the message Rahul Gandhi is sending out here?

Is the Left’s lack of electoral muscle at the national level causing a dilemma in choosing its allies and adversaries?

There’s no dilemma. It’s the Congress which cannot even use its party flags in its campaign. The Left’s strength is its ideological conviction.

Published 19 April 2024, 09:37 IST

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