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Business News/ Lok Sabha Elections / Lok Sabha Elections 2019/  Wayanad welcomes Rahul Gandhi in southern comfort for Congress

Wayanad welcomes Rahul Gandhi in southern comfort for Congress

Rahul Gandhi files nomination from Wayanad, chooses to ignore attacks by Kerala's CPM and focuses on BJP instead
  • By contesting from Wayanad in addition to Amethi, Rahul Gandhi is projecting himself as a leader of both North India and South India
  • Congress president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi in Wayanad, Kerala, on Thursday. (Twitter@INCKerala)Premium
    Congress president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi in Wayanad, Kerala, on Thursday. (Twitter@INCKerala)

    Wayanad: The thrill of the sight was palpable. “I can see them. I’m like some 50 feet away from the helicopter," Rajendran, in his 50s, screamed over the mobile phone to his wife.

    The brief public appearance was Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s first since deciding to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Wayanad in Kerala in addition to Amethi in Uttar Pradesh—projecting himself as a leader of both South and North India who could lead the party to victory.

    Perched precariously on a ten-feet mud wall, along with hundreds of others, Rajendran watched with mounting excitement as the helicopter descended on a football ground near a hilltop school in the town of Wayanad. Then the occupants emerged—Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

    Rajendran’s wife had been feeding him live inputs of Gandhi’s journey—he was filing his nomination papers for the polls—as she watched equally breathless TV news bulletins at their home on the edges of the town.

    But about an hour ago the power went out and he had to take over the live reporting job.

    Rajendran explained why the day was important. “How often do you get to see a prince and a princess?" he said, as Gandhi, clad in white kurta-pyjama, waved to the crowds.

    The placid hill town was shaken by Thursday’s visit as Gandhi spent two hours covering about 2km in a roadshow after filing his nomination. Around 200,000 supporters travelled from at least five north Kerala districts, according to the Congress, making it the biggest roadshow Kerala has seen in a while.

    Wayanad, a poor tribal district, took on a carnival look. “I have been standing since 8am to see him," said K. Janu, a local, who associates herself with no party. “These can’t be all Congress workers here, unless they all have been sleeping until now."

    There was a touch of poignancy, too, about the occasion.

    Old-timers said the excitement surrounding Rahul Gandhi’s visit was even bigger than the one when his parents Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi visited Wayanad back in 1986. Rahul Gandhi last visited the district to immerse his father’s ashes in a temple-river in 1991.

    On Thursday, Gandhi chose to ignore recent attacks on him by Kerala’s Communist Party of India (Marxist), focusing instead on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    ALSO READ | Wayanad’s real jackpot winner: NDA candidate Thushar Vellappally

    “I know the Congress and the CPM are locked in a fight in Kerala. This fight will go on. I understand that my brothers and sisters in the CPM will fight me, attack me, but I will never say a word against them in my campaign. My motto is to send a message of unity and peace," he said.

    Analysts, however, doubted Gandhi could create a wave across the South. “I’m not so sure his presence in the electoral contest in the South will make so much of a difference in other states, though of course a buzz will be there," said Sandeep Shastri, a political analyst.

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    Published: 04 Apr 2019, 11:18 AM IST
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