Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra wave to supporters during a road show in Wayanad on Thursday. Reuters
AM Abdussalam/ Ashraf Padanna
KALPETTA: Amidst fun and fanfare and an impressive road show, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, accompanied by sister Priyanka Vadra, filed his nomination papers for contesting from Wayanad parliamentary constituency for the April 23 election around 11.45am on Thursday.
Rahul, accompanied by senior Congress leaders including KC Venugopal and Mukul Wasnik, submitted the papers before the district Collector AR Ajayakumar at the district headquarters here.
“I have come to Kerala to send a message India is one,” Rahul told reporters in Kozhikode shortly after filing his nomination papers with Priyanka.
“I understand that the CPIM (ruling Communist Party of Inida-Marxist) has to fight me. I want to make it very clear to my brothers and sisters in CPIM that I understand they have to attack me.” “I am here to send a message of unity. So I’ll absorb allis attack with happiness. But from me, you’ll not hear a word from me during my campaign against the CPIM,” he added.
After filing the nomination, Rahul and Priyanka led an impressive 2km long road show in Kalpetta town to greet hundreds of people who arrived from neighbouring districts and states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka braving scorching heat.
“I want to send a message that India is one. It belongs to all people irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, race or belief,” Rahul said while defending his decision to contest from southern India.
During his roadshow, the Gandhis got down from their vehicle and helped two journalists hurt after a fall.
“I am overwhelmed by the love and affection of the people of Wayanad in Kerala, where I filed my nomination today for the Lok Sabha. Thank you for your support & warm welcome!” he later tweeted.
“I also want to wish the journalists injured in a mishap during our road show a speedy recovery.” “My brother, my truest friend, and by far the most courageous man I know. Take care of him Wayanad, he won’t let you down,” Priyanka later tweeted.
The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) thanked the Gandhis.
“We consider it as a great gesture on the part of these leaders,” IJU secretary-general G Prabhakaran said in a statement.
“Rahul was taking an injured journalist in a stretcher to the ambulance, and Priyanka was holding the shoes of an injured woman journalist. We send our gratitude and sincere thanks to the kindness they have shown.” Security officials had a tough time to control party enthusiasts who thronged narrow streets and in and around the Collectorate.
The road show began at a place slightly distant from the previously fixed location due to security reasons.
As the massive crowd of supporters gathered on both sides of the road, security personnel tried hard to control the workers to clear the way for the vehicle.
The duo reached Kalpetta SKMJ high school ground in a helicopter by 11am.
He travelled in an open jeep to the Collectorate.
Rahul also met office bearers of the Congress and parties in the United Democratic Front (UDF) later.
Rahul set out to Wayanad on a special chopper from Vikram Maidan in West Hill in Kozhikode by 10.45am.
Later Rahul left for Nagpur from Calicut International Airport at Karippur for campaign activities and Priyanka went to Delhi.
Speaking to media persons in Calicut after returning from Wayanad, Rahul Gandhi said his aim is to send a message that India is one, be it North, South, East or West.
The CPIM leaders, upset at his choice of Wayanad, said his attitude would not help defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Rejecting the argument of Congress leaders to withdraw their opponent from Wayanad, like the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) in Amethi, they said the Congress was too weak in UP to pose a challenge to them.
“The Congress got only two seats in UP where Rahul Gandhi and his mother won,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters here. “But despite an invitation to join them, they were going it alone dividing secular votes.” Addressing the concern expressed by CPIM, Rahul said he held CPIM in high esteem and he appreciated their concern regarding his candidature. Rahul said that his party’s main rival is BJP and not CPIM.
After keeping party workers and rival parties on tenterhooks for a week, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has finally decided to contest from Wayanad parliamentary seat, jolting ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which enjoyed an upper hand initially due to the early announcement of candidates from all 20 seats in the state.
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