Ending weeks of suspense, Congress on Sunday announced that President Rahul Gandhi will also contest from Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala apart from his traditional Amethi.
By choosing to contest a Lok Sabha seat in southern India, Rahul has followed the footsteps of his grandmother Indira Gandhi who made a post-Emergency comeback from Chickmagalur in Karnataka in 1978 and later also contested and won from Medak, now in Telangana, in 1980.
Rahul’s mother Sonia Gandhi too had contested two Lok Sabha seats -- Amethi and Bellary while making her electoral debut in 1999.
Senior Congress leaders A K Antony, Ahmed Patel, K C Venugopal and Randeep Singh Surjewala made the announcement at a special press conference at the AICC Headquarters here on Sunday.
Antony said Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala was located near the tri-junction with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka -- the three states that had demanded that Rahul should also contest elections from southern India.
This is the first time Rahul would be contesting two Lok Sabha seats since he made his electoral debut in 2004. Rahul’s candidature from Amethi was already declared in the first list of the party’s Lok Sabha candidates.
“There was a demand from all the three southern states - Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka - and since Wayanad is like a tri-junction for all the three, it has been decided that Rahul Gandhi will contest from Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala,” Antony said.
Surjewala also cited the “geographical importance” of Wayanad and said that the decision was taken to fight the “discriminatory” attitude of the BJP towards the southern states.
Surjewala also dismissed as “immature” the criticism by the BJP over Rahul’s southern electoral debut.
“Why doesn’t the BJP ask why Prime Minister Narendra Modi also contested from Varanasi in addition to Gujarat? These are immature talks to deviate from more important issues around us,” he said.
According to Surjewala, Rahul had told the Congress Working Committee meeting last week that he considered Amethi as part of his family.
“But this is a fight against those forces who seek to divide India based on colour, language, based on a way of life, based on food habits and based on the clothes you wear,” he said.
Surjewala said this had prompted Rahul to also contest the Wayanad seat.
“I will also represent the southern states for they are an important part of India's way of life and India' way forward,” Rahul had said.
Elections will be held in Wayanad on April 23, while Amethi goes to polls on May 6.