IUML eyes Wayanad, in case Rahul Gandhi opts out

The Congress leadership decided to hold talks in person with IUML after the latter decided to up its ante on the third seat.
Wayanad MP and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi interacting with the public at Birmitrapur in Sundargarh district on Tuesday.
Wayanad MP and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi interacting with the public at Birmitrapur in Sundargarh district on Tuesday.(Photo |Express)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as its demand for a third Lok Sabha seat rattled the UDF ahead of elections, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) may have finally stumbled upon a probable ‘solution’.

On the eve of another round of crucial talks with the Congress leadership, the IUML camp is upbeat about its chances of bagging a third seat — in Wayanad. Speculation is rife that Rahul Gandhi might opt out of Wayanad to contest from either Tamil Nadu or Karnataka. In such a scenario, the IUML is keen to move in.

With the third seat controversy escalating to unprecedented dimensions, the Congress wants to ensure that things don’t go out of hand. The Congress leadership is scheduled to hold talks with IUML state president Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal, PK Kunhalikutty and general secretary P M A Salam in Malappuram on Sunday.

A senior IUML legislator told TNIE that, in all likelihood, the issue will be settled in the party’s favour on Sunday. “In all probability, Rahul Gandhi will be contesting from either Karnataka or Tamil Nadu this time. Things will fall into place, as we have decided to stake claim on the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat. The demand will most likely be approved without much difficulty,” he said. The League leader, however, added that the decision will be made public only after Rahul Gandhi takes a final call.

The Congress leadership decided to hold talks in person with IUML after the latter decided to up its ante on the third seat. A section of IUML leaders are firm on the demand for a third seat. Moreover, there’s a strong demand from party workers who insist that the party should fight for the seat. Sensing an opportunity, the Left leadership has been making remarks that the IUML is eligible for a third seat. 

‘Decision cannot be prolonged any further’

IUML state general secretary PMA Salam on Saturday exuded confidence in getting the third Lok Sabha seat. “The decision on the third seat cannot be prolonged any further. IUML has only sought a third LS seat and not a Rajya Sabha seat,” he said.

‘Party high command to decide on Wayanad seat’

Senior IUML leaders, including Salam, have been reiterating that the party should get a third seat. The unprecedented firmness with which the League has been standing by its demand, has put the Congress in a tight spot. However, the Congress leadership is tight-lipped about its modus operandi for Sunday’s meeting.

A senior Congress leader close to KPCC president Sudhakaran told TNIE that the ball is now in the court of the party high command, which should decide on the Wayanad seat.

“AICC general secretary KC Venugopal is now in Alappuzha. He is acting as an intermediary between Rahul Gandhi and the state leadership,” said a senior Congress leader. During a recent visit to Wayanad, Rahul had claimed that Wayanad was like home, thereby indicating that he would defend his sitting seat. However, in the new political scenario, it is learnt that Rahul may opt for a seat in Tamil Nadu or Karnataka.

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