Image source: The News Minute

The decision of Congress President Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad parliamentary constituency (PC) in Kerala, besides the Congress’ traditional stronghold of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, made Kerala one of the epicentres of the 2019 General Elections. The State went to the polls on April 23 to elect 20 members to the Lok Sabha (LS).Rahul Gandhi’s entry into the fray from Wayanad turned into a major plank of propaganda of the 2019 General Elections. Senior Congress leaders like A K Antony described the decision as a tactical move of the party to consolidate its electoral base in South India by espousing the aspirations of the people there.1 On the other hand, the strategy of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was to capitalise the issue for the polarisation of the majority-community votes to its advantage in other states, especially in the Hindi heartland. Thus, the Prime Minister while addressing a rally in Maharashtra on April 1, 2019 took pot-shots at the Congress and its president, alleging that they were afraid of fielding candidates from majority-dominated constituencies because they had insulted Hindus by using the term “Hindu terror”. “That is why they are forced to take refuge in places where the majority is in a minority”.2 Amit Shah, the president of the BJP also spoke on the same lines during an election rally in Nagpur on April 10, holding that Rahul was contesting in such a seat where when a procession is taken out “one cannot make out whether the place is in India or Pakistan”.3 He was referring to the large number of the green flags of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), an ally of the Congress-led United Democratic front (UDF) in the roadshow organised in Wayanad after the filing of nomination papers by Rahul on April 4, 2019. The decision also drew heavy flak from Left parties, notably the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) which wondered “if Congress hadn’t got its priorities wrong by pitting its most prestigious candidate against a potential ally rather than its avowed rival”

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Views expressed by the author are personal and need not reflect or represent the views of Centre for Public Policy Research 

K V Thomas
K V Thomas
K V Thomas is Senior Fellow at CPPR. He has over 36 years of distinguished service in the Intelligence Bureau (Ministry of Home Affairs) of India where he rose to become the Associate Director. He can be contacted at thomas@cppr.in

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