AICC General Secretary Oommen Chandy Saturday said the KPCC has requested Gandhi to contest from Wayanad but he has not yet commented on the proposal.Reacting to the proposal by the Kerala unit, ruling CPI-M and BJP said it was due to "apprehension" of Gandhi's defeat in his Amethi seat in Uttar Pradesh
The Congress in Kerala has suggested party chief Rahul Gandhi's name for the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat, a party bastion in the state.
AICC General Secretary Oommen Chandy Saturday said the KPCC has requested Gandhi to contest from Wayanad but he has not yet commented on the proposal.Reacting to the proposal by the Kerala unit, ruling CPI-M and BJP said it was due to "apprehension" of Gandhi's defeat in his Amethi seat in Uttar Pradesh. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asked the Congress to clarify what message it was sending out by asking Gandhi to contest from the state, saying it would mean he would be fighting the "main political force" Left front and not BJP.
The Congress earlier this month had announced that Rahul Gandhi will contest from his bastion Amethi and Sonia Gandhi from Rae Bareli, also in Uttar Pradesh.The move by Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) comes after similar pleas by party state units in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu asking Rahul Gandhi to contest from their respective states."There is a demand from party leaders that Gandhi should contest from any of the South Indian Lok Sabha seat and we have requested Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad seat," Chandy told reporters.
"He has not commented on the request so far. But we expect that there would be a positive response," Chandy said.The Congress heading the United Democratic Front in Kerala is contesting 16 out of 20 Lok Sabha seats and has announced the names of 14 candidates. The party is yet to declare nominees for Wayanad and Vadakara. In Kottayam, Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly Ramesh Chennithala said he had requested the Congress president to contest from Wayanad when he visited Kerala recently to launch the party's election campaign.He also said the matter was discussed with senior party leaders, including A K Antony."I once again request Gandhi to contest from Wayanad.
Congress president contesting from Lok Sabha seats in South India and North India will strengthen national unity and integration," Chennithala said.Gandhi's candidature from Wayanad will energise the Congress party in South India and thus the party can win majority of seats from the region, the leaders said.The Congress had earlier proposed T Siddique, Kozhikode Disitrct Congress Committee president, for the Wayanad seat but he has backed out.
Siddique said he also wants Gandhi to contest from the Wayanad seat.
In his reaction, Vijayan said in Kerala the LDF was the main force. "Gandhi is not coming to fight the BJP here, but the LDF," he told reporters in Kannur."Congress needs to think what is the message they are trying to send out. The message is that it is not the BJP they are fighting, but the LDF," he said. CPI-M state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the self-confidence of the Congress seems to have waned which was why the party wants Gandhi to contest from Amethi and Wayanad.
The 'change' in the candidature at the last moment showed the heightened group war between two factions in the congress, Balakrishnan told reporters in Kannur.Former Mizoram governor and BJP candidate from Thiruvananthapuram, Kummanam Rajasekharan said Gandhi was apprehensive of defeat in Amethi, which was why "a safe" seat like wayanad was being selected for him in Kerala.Former union minister Shashi Tharoor, seeking re-election from Thiruvananthapuram as Congress nominee, said the move will be beneficial to the party in all the seats.
Tharoor also challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to try his luck from any place in Kerala or any other southern state.Senior Congress leader V M Sudheeran said Gandhi should accept the wish of the people of the state.
Former minister and IUML MP P K Kunahlikutty and Kerala Congress (M) leader Jose K Mani, whose parties are partners of UDF, also welcomed the KPCC decision to invite Gandhi to contest from Wayanad.