Rahul Gandhi smashes LDF poll complacence

The wider reach of Rahul in south India constituencies by locating himself in Wayanad is a corollary.

Thiruvananthapuram: It’s been a surgical strike. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan greeted the state Congress leaders’ shocker announcement about party president Rahul Gandhi’s candidature in Wayanad with dismay: “Who is he fighting against”, asked Mr Vijayan.

Perhaps this is what AICC general secretaries Oommen Chandy and K. C. Venugopal, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and PCC president Mullapppally Ramachandran had intended: to deal a blow to the LDF complacence about the elections.

The wider reach of Rahul in south India constituencies by locating himself in Wayanad is a corollary. The main agenda of the state leaders in pushing the Rahul’s southern sojourn is to checkmate the CPM in its tracks and lend greater thrust to the UDF campaign against CPM’s “murderous politics”.

The LDF, for sure, will have to marshal its forces in Wayanad, matching the rival’s charisma. To that extent the LDF’s campaign would be distracted in the rest of the constituencies. The 45 percent minority concentration in the state fits in with the UDF agenda of utilising the Rahul persona as the mascot of secular aspirations.

But the manner in which the state Congress leaders have been atypical of the Congress, state leaders announcing the party president’s second constituency for contest, even before the party’s central election committee had started deliberating. It is almost certain that the CEC imprimatur will be available tomorrow.

Some of the Congress leaders in New Delhi are not reconciled to the state coup.

They would have preferred the question of a second constituency to be discussed at the party forums to decide the question whether Rahul should be pitted against the Left in Kerala at a time when he is rallying Left and secular forces across the country.

They are more worried about the party’s delay in tying up with the broad non-NDA parties in other parts where the stakes are high than in the 20-seat Kerala, which is not a major concern for the secular camp. They say the Left and the Congress are at loggerheads only in Kerala and so why miss the larger Indian picture.

These questions are organisationally sound and tactically valid but the LDF’s extreme resort to filing FIRs against prospective Congress candidates, all of them sitting MLAs, on the eve of elections and the charge of being saffron turncoats muddied the electoral scene beyond a point, eliciting the kind of riposte from Chandy and company.

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