Rahul presence will bring big changes in approach - GulfToday

Rahul presence will bring big changes in approach


Rahul Gandhi waves during a rally ahead of phase 3 of India’s general election at Bajipura village in Ahmedabad. Agence France-Presse

Ashraf Padanna

The fame of this hilly district Wayanad known for its coffee plantations and tourist spots went beyond borders once Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination from here this month.

Though the Congress party president came here only once since, when he last week addressed a massive rally here, people across the political spectrum are upbeat about its prospects.

They hope his presence, either as the prime minister of the country or the leader of the opposition, would bring them the development and jobs.

“We are not expecting him to bring big projects. His very presence would itself help the tourism industry in a big way,” said Basheer, a hotelier in Sulthan Bathery.

Basheer and his family, he says, traditionally vote for the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM.

But Gandhi’s candidature has made them, like many others, to change their voting preference this time.

“We’ll definitely vote for Gandhi,” he told Gulf Today. “I didn’t have to thinks twice before I took the decision. My family just endorsed it.”

At a rally here on Wednesday, Gandhi dropped enough hints at retaining Wayanad as his constituency after elections. Party leaders hope he leaves Amethi to his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Wayanad parliamentary constituency comprises three assembly segments of this backward district, three from Malappuram and one from Kozhikode.

It elected Congress leader the late MI Shanavas in the last two elections since it came into being in 2008 and the voting pattern shows its strong Congress orientation.

Last time, the polling percentage was just 73.25 per cent. The Congress workers expect this to go up considerably because of the star presence.

The electorate has also increased to 1,357,819 from 1,249,420 this time, with women outnumbering men by 11,796.

“My assessment is that the LDF will get 250,000 votes and the NDA around 100,000. Rahul Gandhi will take all the rest,” Baby, a farmer here, told The Gulf Today.

“It’s a friendly contest between the Congress and the LDF this time as both have said they’d join hands after the elections. The NDA’s presence is insignificant here.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has no candidate against his primary challenger who also seeks election from his pocket borough of Amethi.

It instead has left it to National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partner Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) leader Thushar Vellappally.

Though he had campaigned in the state twice before the date was set and twice after that, he preferred not to come here.

He also put BDJS in a tight spot branding the constituency as a place where the “minority is majority” citing sizable population of Muslims and Christians.

Vadra, who was here with her brother while filing his nomination and the roadshow that followed, will arrive here on Saturday.

Keala will vote in the third phase of the staggered national elections on Tuesday, and the deadline for the public campaign will end on Sunday.

She will campaign for two years here holding roadshows till the culmination of the campaigning Sunday evening.

“Her arrival will electrify not only Wayanad but the entire state. We’ll win all the 20 seats from Kerala,” said KP Anil Kumar, who is in charge of Gandhi’s publicity.

Federal minister Smriti Irani, who is Gandhi’s opponent in Amethi, will also be here on Sunday with her roadshow.

The poll seen here so far remained as dull as anywhere in the state despite the candidacy of the president of the main opposition Congress party.

There are posters, flags and billboards of all the three principal contenders, including PP Suneer of the Communist Party of India (CPI), the main challenger.

“You can expect wonders this time,” said Suneer. “We have been consistently improving our vote share in Wayanad, and this time we’ll win.”

But the decision of the BJP to leave Wayanad to a fledgeling ally tells it all. Vellappally, president of the three-year-old BDJS was not even a trusted ally.

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