With barely a week left for Kerala to go to polls, the state’s ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) is leaving no stones unturned to ensure that Congress president Rahul Gandhi is defeated in Wayanad, the hilly district which the he has picked as his second seat.
In a major show of strength, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan held a massive road show on April 11 in Kalpetta, the heart of Wayanad, giving a strong indication that the Left Front has no plans of going soft on their regional rival Congress.
The LDF is pinning its hopes of defeating the Gandhi scion in Wayanad by fielding PP Suneer, a Communist Party of India (CPI) leader who played a significant role in expanding the party base in Malappuram, a predominantly Muslim league fortress.
Suneer, 51, was born in a communist family in Marancheri in Malappuram district. He emerged as the party leader after being a student leader in Calicut University where he was elected as the chairman of students' union twice.
A political science graduate from Thrissur’s Sree Kerala Varma College,
Suneer, who currently holds the role of left front convener in Malappuram, was the CPI leader in the district at a time when party strongmen like KNA Khader and Rahmatullah crossed over to the Muslim League and Congress. Given his remarkable performance as the LDF convener for Malappuram district, he is considered to be equally acceptable to the LDF ally, CPM.
One reason for LDF’s high confidence in Wayanad is that it foresees the repeat of thumping victory in the 2016 assembly polls. The support from MP Veerendra Kumar, who jumped sides from Congress-led UDF, is also a reason for cheer within the party.
Unlike in the previous elections, the LDF this time also enjoys the support of CK Janu, a tribal leader who parted ways with the BJP recently. Janu can prove instrumental in helping the party garner tribal and adivasi votes.
Upping the ante against Congress and Rahul Gandhi, the LDF is also invoking farmers’ sentiments in the predominantly agrarian constituency. The CPM organised a farmers' march on April 12 in which All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) national president Ashok Dhawale and P Sainath took part.