Bidar considered but Rahul finally chose Wayanad
New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi chose Wayanad, a Congress stronghold in Kerala, as his second seat only after closely considering Karnataka’s Bidar.
The decision to leave Bidar and Tamil Nadu Congress’ suggestions of Sivaganga and Kanyakumari came as the party was not sure of its own ability to take the fight to the finish. Also, it did not want to lean too much on its allies.
Sources said the Karnataka Congress had suggested Bidar as its preference. “We are happy that Rahul Gandhi will contest from Wayanad, Kerala, in the South, though we are a bit disappointed that he did not choose a constituency in Karnataka. We are sure he will win with a massive majority from both constituencies,” Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao tweeted.
The Congress leadership felt that it would need the help of its allies in a big way in constituencies in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This, sources said, prompted the zeroing in on Wayanad.
The Bidar seat was reclaimed by Bhagwant Khuda from Congress veteran Dharam Singh in 2014 by a margin of over 92,000 seats. In 2004 bypoll and 2009, Congress was the winner while before that the BJP had held the seat since 1991.
Sources also said the top leadership decided to ignore the advice of veteran Opposition leaders Sharad Pawar and Sharad Yadav not to contest in Kerala. They were of the view that this would go against the spirit of Opposition unity and send a wrong signal but the Congress leadership felt that fighting from Kerala would be more beneficial and they could convince the Left later as to why they had to fight it.
The final decision by Gandhi to contest Wayanad, predominantly a tribal and minority community seat, was conveyed on Saturday evening to senior Kerala leaders Mullappally Ramachandran, Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala by senior Congress Working Committee member A K Antony with an instruction that it should not be leaked.
While Gandhi conveyed the decision to Antony, a separate message went to AICC General Secretary (Organisation) K C Venugopal, who was in Mumbai on Saturday, to return to Delhi by changing his plans to go to Bengaluru. Venugopal was to address a press conference with other senior leaders to announce Gandhi’s decision.
However, Kerala leaders were told with no uncertainty that the news should not leak out. The Kerala leadership also wanted an early announcement as the last date for filing nominations is Thursday and its probable Vadakara nominee K Muralidharan wanted to file the papers on Monday itself.
This also prompted the central leadership to announce the candidature of Gandhi from Wayanad. Besides Wayanad, Congress has not declared its nominee for Vadakara where Muralidharan, son of former Chief Minister K Karunakaran, is the unanimous choice of Kerala leaders.