Exclusive: Clamour in Cong for Rahul’s southern debut

Tamil Nadu and Karnataka top picks of Congress leaders for party chief to contest a second seat from; anti-Modi sentiments and JD(S) alliance major factors

Highly-placed sources told DH that several leaders, including those holding plum positions in the party, want Rahul to choose a seat from Tamil Nadu to milk the visible anti-Modi sentiment in the state or from Karnataka where the party has stitched up an alliance with the JD(S).
Highlights: 
Party leaders want Rahul Gandhi to choose a seat from Tamil Nadu to milk the visible anti-Narendra Modi sentiments in the state
Karnataka is also being suggested as an option for Rahul Gandhi since the party has stitched up a formidable alliance with JD(S).
The sources said the leaders strongly feel that Rahul Gandhi should choose to contest from a seat in one of the Southern states not just to boost the party’s prospects but also to cash in on the “Hindi and North Indian image” of the BJP
Indira Gandhi won from Chikmagalur in 1978 and Medak in then-Andhra Pradesh in 1980

Congress leaders are pushing party president Rahul Gandhi to contest from a second seat in either Tamil Nadu or Karnataka in the Lok Sabha elections to boost the party’s prospects in South India.

Highly-placed sources told DH that several leaders, including those holding plum positions in the party, want Rahul to choose a seat from Tamil Nadu to milk the visible anti-Modi sentiment in the state or from Karnataka where the party has stitched up an alliance with the JD(S).

The Congress has already announced that Rahul Gandhi would contest from Amethi for the fourth time — he won the seat in 2004, 2009 and 2014.

On Friday, Karnataka Congress leaders started tweeting their invitation to Rahul with the hashtag #RaGaFromKarnataka. Their argument is that Rahul’s grandmother, Indira Gandhi, and mother, Sonia Gandhi, have tasted electoral success in the state.

“Karnataka has always supported and encouraged Congress leaders. It has been proved in case of Smt Indira ji & Smt Sonia ji. We also want our next Prime Minister of India Shri Rahul Gandhi to contest from Karnataka & herald new developmental paradigm,” former chief minister Siddaramaiah tweeted. Siddaramaiah was joined by other top state leaders in welcoming Rahul.

In Tamil Nadu, Karti, son of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, also tweeted his wish that Rahul contest from there. AICC secretary and former Virudhunagar MP Manicka Tagore also joined the call. “He should also be Prime Minister from South India and where the change is already happening,” Tagore tweeted.

Among the southern states, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are good choices as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are “too risky”, with the party losing much of its ground to the YSRCP and the TRS respectively, party sources said.  

According to sources, party leaders strongly feel that Rahul should contest from the south to cash in on the BJP’s perceived ‘Hindi and North Indian’ image.

“There are several state units who want Rahul Gandhi to contest from their state. Now, it is for the party to decide where would Mr. Rahul Gandhi contest from,” AICC spokesperson Pawan Khera said in Delhi.

Sources said family of Chidambaram would also be keen on Rahul contesting from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu. In Karnataka, it is speculated that Bidar would be apt for Rahul.

(With inputs from Bharath Joshi and Sagar Kulkarni)

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Exclusive: Clamour in Cong for Rahul’s southern debut

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