PP Suneer, the candidate of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in Wayanad in Kerala, is well into his second round of door-to-door campaigning in the constituency expressing confidence of springing an upset win in what’s widely considered a bastion of the Congress party in the state. Yet, with the Lok Sabha elections just 25 days away, the grand old party has still not been able to make up it’s mind on who to field in Wayanad. Follow election LIVE updates here
There was feverish speculation that Congress president Rahul Gandhi himself would be fielded from Wayanad in addition to fighting from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. State leaders of the Congress, who lobbied extensively for Gandhi to be brought to Wayanad, had hoped that his candidature would boost the party machinery in all the southern states where it has big stakes. T Siddique, the presumptive candidate in Wayanad, himself announced that he was withdrawing from the seat in the hope of Gandhi getting a ticket from there. The party’s national communications in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala acknowledged the demand of the Kerala unit and promised that there would be a decision soon.
But with time passing by quickly, hopes of Gandhi becoming a candidate from Wayanad are dimming. On Thursday, former chief minister Oommen Chandy did a volte-face by claiming that he never said Gandhi would contest from the seat in north Kerala.
While a section of the state leadership were in favour of a national leader contesting from Kerala, there were murmurs in the party about the message it would send nationally by fielding Gandhi against a CPI candidate. The Congress and the Left may be fierce rivals in the state, but the two share a cordial relationship in Delhi. Since the BJP and its ally BDJS are not considered to be strong contenders in the seat, the contest would primarily be between the Congress and the Left parties.
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Rumours now abound that Gandhi may eventually choose a second seat in Karnataka where the party’s alliance with the JD(S) is seen to pose a stiff challenge to the BJP.
With the process of filing nomination for candidates having begun today, time is quickly running out for the Congress in Wayanad. State leaders have privately expressed apprehension that the Left has clinched the momentum and the head-start in Wayanad due to the confusion within the Congress ranks. Congress’ ally, the IUML, has sternly told the leadership to settle the matter and declare the candidate as soon as possible. A final decision is expected today.