Rahul Gandhi Files Nomination Papers from Wayanad, Draws Huge Support

Thiruvananthapuram/Wayanad: The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) workers came out in thousands to accompany Rahul Gandhi in filing the nomination papers from the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency on Wednesday.

Mr Gandhi, along with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, arrived in a helicopter from Kozhikode to file his nomination papers. After landing at the Muppainad Ripon helipad at 10 am, the Gandhi siblings joined thousands of workers for the massive roadshow that winded through the streets of Kalpetta. Mr Gandhi and Ms Vadra were accompanied by K.C. Venugopal, V.D. Satheeshan and Ramesh Chennithala on an open vehicle as workers cheered them all through the route.

Addressing a massive crowd, which included party workers and supporters, as part of the roadshow, Mr Gandhi attacked the BJP and the RSS by accusing them of “trying to destroy” the Constitution and the democratic nature of India.

After the completion of the roadshow, Mr Gandhi spoke to the workers. He said he doesn’t view the people of Wayanad as just voters but his own family. “I treat you all like my little sister Priyanka. I am committed to addressing the issues of the people of Wayanad and will always be at the forefront for you. It is a great honour to be an MP from Wayanad,” he said.

Mr Gandhi also emphasised that addressing the human-wildlife conflict, which has resulted in numerous casualties in the constituency, will be one of his top priorities as MP from Wayanad.

After the roadshow, Mr Gandhi went straight to the collectorate to file his nomination papers. In the presence of Ms Vadra and other senior Congress leaders, he submitted three sets of nomination papers to district collector Renu Raj.

Taking lessons from the 2019 controversy when the BJP labelled the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) green flags as Pakistani flags, this time the UDF leadership decided to avoid party flags altogether during the roadshow. Instead, the workers carried placards and banners.

Speaking to the media after filing his nomination, Mr Gandhi said that the Lok Sabha election is a fight for democracy and the Constitution of India.

"On one side are the forces that want to destroy the democracy and the Constitution of this country and on the other side, there is a force that is protecting the Constitution and the democratic nature of our country," he said.

The Congress leader alleged that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and others in the BJP who were attempting to destroy the Constitution and the democracy in the country.

He contended that it is the Congress and the INDIA bloc that are trying to stop that from happening.

Mr Gandhi also made a brief visit to a nearby tribal colony at Munderi and met some residents. He also met Jayaprakash, father of Siddharthan, 20, a second-year student at Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, in Wayanad district, who was found hanging in the hostel washroom on February 18. The postmortem examination revealed the horrific torture that the student underwent before his death.

“He spoke to me like a brother and assured all help in our fight for justice,” Mr Jayaprakash said.

This was Mr Gandhi’s first visit to Wayanad after the declaration of the Lok Sabha polls. The Congress leader will return to Wayanad on April 15 and spend seven days leading the campaigning in the constituency.

The Gandhi scion is locked in a three-way fight in Wayanad with senior CPI leader Annie Raja and BJP state president K. Surendran. He had won from the same seat in 2019 with a massive margin of over 4-lakh votes.

LDF candidate Ms Raja also filed her nomination papers on Wednesday. The LDF organised a roadshow in support of their candidate.

Former MLAs C.K. Saseendran and Santhosh Kumar and MPs K.K. Hamsa and K.J. Devasya were also present.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan campaigned extensively for Ms Raja the other day addressing three public meetings.

At these public meetings, the chief minister sought to know who Mr Gandhi was fighting in Wayanad. "Mr Gandhi is coming to Kerala to contest against Ms Raja. She is a national leader of the CPI who was called anti-national during the Manipur violence and cases of sedition were slapped against her. The fact-finding team led by her brought to light the atrocities against the Christian population. What is the stand of Mr Gandhi in such matters?" he asked.

The Kerala chief minister said though the Congress can decide to field anyone from Wayanad, Mr Gandhi’s decision to come to Kerala instead of taking on the BJP directly is being questioned by many across the country.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle with agency inputs )
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