Wayanad: CPI leader D Raja has attacked the Congress for pitching its president Rahul Gandhi against the Left candidate in the April 23 Lok Sabha election from coffee-rich high-altitude constituency of Wayanad in Kerala and said it was a "short-sighted" decision. "What is the message the Congress wants to convey to the whole nation by fielding Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad? In a way, they are subjecting Gandhi to embarrassment by forcing him to fight CPI and the Left," Raja told PTI in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
Gandhi, accompanied by his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and a host of Congress leaders, filed his nomination papers from Wayanad Thursday morning. P P Suneer of the CPI is the LDF candidate from the constituency while the BJP-NDA has fielded Thushar Vellappally. Asked if the left was considering to withdraw its candidate, Raja said, "No way!" "We will not withdraw our candidate and his campaign is in full swing," he said.
Describing the Congress decision to field its president from Wayanad as "short sighted", Raja said the Left has been consistently saying that all secular democratic forces should fight and defeat the BJP and its allies. "The primary objective must be to defeat the BJP and its NDA allies to save the Constitution, democracy and secular fabric of the country. "What is the perspective of the Congress in choosing Gandhi for Wayanad? The arguments and reasons, given by the Congress, are not at all convincing; and absurd," Raja, who is in Kerala in connection with the election campaign, said. They are saying it is for the unity of the country, he said, adding that they should have chosen a constituency in Jammu and Kashmir or Lakshadweep, he said.
After filing his nomination, Gandhi, 48, said he will "absorb all the attacks" and will not speak against Left parties during his campaign. He said he was contesting from Wayanad, in addition to his traditional stronghold of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, to send a "message of unity". But Raja asked why the Congress did not choose Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of India, where the BJP is in the field, or a seat in Karnataka, where the fight is between the Congress-JDS combine and the BJP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was attacking Gandhi, saying he had chosen a constituency where Hindus were not in majority and that the Congress chief was running away from Amethi, the 69-year-old Left leader said.
The Congress has also subjected Gandhi to a barrage of criticism from Modi and the RSS on one side and forced him to contest against the Left on the other, he said. "The decision is wrong and it has nothing to do with strengthening the cause of secularism," Raja added. Wayanad district is in the north-eastern part of Kerala and is home to various tribal groups. The area was badly affected by last year's floods.
Keep yourself updated on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 with our round-the-clock coverage -- breaking news, updates, analyses et all. Happy reading.