“Unraveling Discord: Insights into Congress, Wayanad, and Rahul’s Political Dynamics”

Has Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad candidacy split INDIA bloc? Experts debate on Rajdeep Sardesai’s show

In the aftermath of 27 constituents of the INDIA bloc assembling at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan to voice their discontent against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, leaders from both factions orchestrated parallel road shows at the scenic Kalpetta, the district headquarters of Wayanad. Subsequently, they submitted their nominations, setting the stage for a showdown in the Lok Sabha polls.

Fractures within the INDIA bloc are evident. In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress has chosen to venture alone, sidelining the Congress and the Left parties. Conversely, the Congress and the Left, who have joined forces in Bengal and ostensibly elsewhere, find themselves at odds in Kerala, aligning with different coalitions.

Complications Unveiled In response to Rahul Gandhi’s candidacy in Wayanad, Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary D. Raja, whose wife Annie Raja – also the president of the National Federation of Indian Women – is contesting against the Gandhi scion, questioned why Rahul, whose Yatras and campaigns were geared towards combating the BJP, opted not to contest from a constituency where the party posed the primary challenge.

The BJP’s Kerala state chief, K. Surendran, is also vying for the Wayanad seat. In 2014, his party garnered less than one lakh votes, and in 2019, it abstained from the contest. The electoral battle in Wayanad, a stronghold of the Congress since 2009, primarily revolves around the Congress and the CPI, with the BJP making its debut, much like elsewhere in Kerala.

The CPI had declared Annie Raja’s candidacy a month prior to Rahul’s nomination announcement by the Congress for the seat. Speculation arose that Rahul might opt for a different constituency – perhaps in Karnataka or Telangana, both under Congress governance – to lead the charge against the BJP.

Doubts Cast on Rahul’s Candidature Rahul’s camaraderie with Communist Party of India (Marxist (CPI-M) General Secretary, Sitaram Yechury, is conspicuous in all INDIA bloc gatherings. The Congress leader’s critiques of wealth creators and his inclination towards leftist ideologies on various matters are perceived to be influenced by his proximity to Yechury. Despite this camaraderie, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, perhaps reflecting internal divisions within the CPI(M), did not mince words when he recently criticized Rahul’s candidature in Wayanad as “inappropriate.” He echoed D. Raja’s sentiments, questioning, “Has he come here to contest against the NDA, or does the Left serve as his target?”

Vijayan went further to state, “The Congress played a pivotal role in raising corruption allegations related to the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) liquor policy in Delhi, leading to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) pursuing Arvind Kejriwal. When Manish Sisodia was arrested, Congress questioned why Kejriwal was not apprehended,” he remarked at a campaign rally for Annie Raja. It’s ironic that the most prominent figures at the Ramlila Maidan protest against Kejriwal’s arrest were the three Gandhis – Rahul, Priyanka, and Sonia.

Cadre Disillusioned Due to Lack of Consensus The absence of consensus and a clear trajectory has sparked a mass exodus from the Grand Old Party in recent weeks. Over a hundred prominent leaders, including former chief ministers and Pradesh unit chiefs, have departed. On Thursday, a mass resignation of 113 workers occurred in Rajasthan. In Madhya Pradesh, the number of defections is estimated at 25,000; in fact, the BJP is organizing special camps to accommodate disgruntled Congress members. Similar scenarios unfold in several other states. The BJP benefits, as do regional parties that are otherwise aligned with the Congress.

While Rahul continues to assail the BJP domestically and internationally, firmly believing that the nation would ‘go up in flames’ if the current dispensation is re-elected, his supporters, notably, are disillusioned with the Congress’s inconsistency. Upon resigning on Thursday, Sanjay Nirupam, a former MP who also headed the Mumbai unit of the Congress, remarked that the party harbors five power centers, all in conflict with one another. He cited factions revolving around Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Vadra, and K.C.Venugopal, each pursuing divergent agendas.

Absent Leadership Given that Venugopal, vested with the authority to announce all pivotal decisions, is himself contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Allapuzha, the All India Congress Committee office in New Delhi finds itself adrift during the election campaign. Rahul Gandhi, too, refrained from raising his party’s flag when he, accompanied by Priyanka, conducted an impressive road show on Wednesday before filing his nomination in Wayanad, a constituency that elected him five years ago when his family’s traditional supporters in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi declined to send him back to Parliament. Meanwhile, decisions regarding candidates from Amethi and Rae Bareli, both Gandhi family bastions, remain pending. Even Robert Vadra expressed interest in contesting from Amethi during media interviews.

The political calculus that prompted Rahul to choose Kerala’s Wayanad as a safe constituency in 2019 remains unchanged. The seat has been held by the Congress since 2009 as part of the United Democratic Front (UDF) seat-sharing arrangement. The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the second-largest constituent of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), wields influence in this constituency. Encompassing Mallapuram, Wayanad, and Kozhikode districts in northern Kerala, it predominantly comprises Muslim and tribal voters. As for the LDF, the CPI has secured the seat this time. The party has consistently been the runner-up to the Congress in the last three elections.

A Clash Over Banners During Rahul’s nomination filing in 2019, the presence of the IUML’s flag at his rallies provided fodder for BJP spin-doctors, as it bore resemblance to the Pakistani flag. Consequently, the Congress instructed the IUML to refrain from displaying its flag during Wednesday’s roadshow. While the ally acquiesced, it stipulated that the Congress, too, refrain from hoisting its flag. IUML chief P.K. Kunhalikutty stood alongside Rahul during the roadshow and his nomination.

The absence of flags was seized upon by the BJP’s Surendran and Smriti Irani. The BJP alleged that Rahul was “ashamed of the IUML alliance,” hence the absence of party flags, while the BJP proudly displayed its flag when Surendran submitted his nomination.

Vijayan, meanwhile, suggested that the Congress’s fear of the BJP compelled it to conceal its

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