THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Suddenly the Congress-led UDF in the state is confidence personified. So much so that the Wayanad twist, a real surgical strike from the Congress camp, could well be a game changer for the Opposition front in this Lok Sabha polls. In a surprise move, the Congress leadership in the state has urged Rahul Gandhi to contest from its sure seat - Wayanad. There are indications that the Congress High Command had favourably responded to the state PCC’s demand. Rahul too has reportedly agreed to this demand from the state leadership.
The sudden twist in the tale has taken the LDF leadership in the state unawares. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has already come out against the move. “At a time when there is a major move by the secular parties against the BJP, what exactly is the message he’s sending by contesting from Kerala,” asked Pinarayi while talking to the media.
CPM state chief Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the Congress has lost its confidence in Kerala. Though both Pinarayi and Kodiyeri tried to play down the Rahul entry, the shock effect was very much evident.
The ripple effects of such a move is sure to have an impact across South India. While the UDF leadership is confident of sweeping the polls in the state, the Congress calculates that it will help the party mobilise maximum seats from south India, which can more than make up for any possible loss in North India.
Rahul’s candidature will not only be a morale booster for the UDF in Kerala but also send out a clear message, felt political commentator N M Pearson. “The surprise entry of K Muraleedharan at Vadakara has already boosted the UDF’s confidence. If Rahul too contests, that’d be much more than a morale booster. It would further assert that the Congress is the real alternative to Modi-led BJP,” he opined.
Once Rahul gives his official nod to Wayanad, the saffron party in Kerala too would find itself in a tight spot. The BJP leadership in the state has poohpoohed the move as one arising out of the fear of imminent failure, but the party will have to rack up novel strategies to take on a Prime Ministerial candidate contesting from Kerala.
It could well be a moment of history repeating itself in a different way, says Appukkuttan Vallikkunnu, referring to Indira Gandhi contesting from Chikmagalur in 1978. Ideally the Left should withdraw its candidate in Wayanad if they are sincere in their fight against the saffron party, he added.
“It’s an extraordinary moment for the Congress and the national politics. The Congress is on a move to mobilise maximum seats in South India. Obviously, this would well be a surgical strike from the party. A sure seat from here would let Rahul move around for campaigning across the country. As far as Kerala is concerned, a Prime Ministerial candidate contesting from here is a crucial move,” Vallikkunnu pointed out.
The UDF which was lagging behind the LDF - after the latter registered a clear upper hand on the campaign front with an early start - could more than make up for the delay and can even overtake the rival front with the sudden move.