UDF ahead in Wayanad even as ‘Rahul factor’ loses charm

Rahul’s candidature had given the people of Wayanad great hopes last time, as they expected him to become the prime minister. Now, people are discussing whether the constituency has really benefited from him.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. File photo

KALPETTA: Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi put Wayanad in the limelight with his decision to contest from the constituency in 2019. However, the ‘Rahul Gandhi factor’ seems to have lost its charm this time, causing concerns within the UDF camp. While Rahul’s visit had given the UDF a head start to its campaigning in Wayanad, the front is now placing its trust in minority votes and the trend witnessed in the past elections.

Rahul’s candidature had given the people of Wayanad great hopes last time, as they expected him to become the prime minister. Now, people are discussing whether the constituency has really benefited from him. To add to the chaos, the LDF leadership has been blaming Rahul for his alleged failure to address the human-animal conflicts and other pressing development needs. Over the past four months, four people have died in wild jumbo attacks in Wayanad.

“How can we live here under these circumstances? We need a government that can protect us from wild animals. We have lost faith in the current systems,” said Benny M, a dairy farmer in Mananthavady.

The deaths triggered massive protests by the people against the state government and forest officials last February. Meanwhile, LDF — which has fielded CPI leader Annie Raja — has been attacking the Rahul factor. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has started criticising Rahul and his alleged inefficiency in fighting the NDA government at the Centre, raising several topics like CAA and the Manipur violence.

Amid the hullabaloo, BJP state president K Surendran’s campaign seems to have taken a back seat. Though he made his presence felt initially with a huge roadshow, the NDA camp has not done anything major since. BJP’s campaign also took a hit when Surendran proposed to change the name of Sultan Bathery to ‘Ganapathy Vattom’, should he be elected.

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