Rahul Gandhi’s Calculated Risk in Wayanad Pays Off as Smriti Irani Makes Him Sweat in Amethi
Rahul’s calculated gamble with Wayanad has proven successful in the electoral contest by Kerala the only state apart from Punjab where the Congress has defeated BJP.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi waves at party workers and supporters during an election rally ahead of the last phase of Lok Sabha polls, in Neemuch district, Tuesday, May 14, 2019. (File photo/PTI)
For Rahul Gandhi, contesting from second seat Wayanad has turned out to be a saving grace. Projected by Congress as a move to shore up the party’s tally in southern states, it will allow the Congress president to attend Lok Sabha for the next five years if he loses out to Smriti Irani in Amethi, as the trends currently suggest.
The Congress president Rahul Gandhi won the seat in Kerela by a margin of nearly 4 lakh votes. Up against BSP’s Mohamed P K, Usha K of the CPI(ML)(R), and the CPI’s PP Suneer, Rahul’s decision to contest from the southern state had invited a lot of criticism.
The Congress president was elected to the Parliament from his traditional Amethi seat, a family bastion, for three terms in a row. This Lok Sabha election, however, he took the advice of his party workers and chose to contest from Wayanad in Kerala as well.
This decision was followed by accusations that he was running away, scared that BJP's Smriti Irani, who came a bit too close for comfort in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, might just defeat him this time.
Nevertheless, Rahul’s calculated gamble with Wayanad has proven successful in the electoral contest and has also helped the Congress-led UDF alliance win 19 of the 20 seats on offer in Kerala, making it the only state apart from Punjab where the Congress has defeated BJP.
The Wayanad constituency was formed in 2009 and has elected a Congress leader in both 2009 and 2014 general elections, thus making it a safe bet for the Congress.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, M I Shanavas of INC won in this seat by defeating the CPI candidate by a margin of 20,870 votes which was 2.28% of the total votes polled in the constituency. INC had a vote share of 41.21% in 2014 in the seat. There were a total of 15 contestants in 2014.
Wayanad also has a majority Muslim population, a community that is a traditional voter base for the grand old party.
Betting against Congress’ stronghold Amethi, Rahul Gandhi also decided to take 2019 Election to galvanise party workers in Southern states through his candidacy from Wayanad. This moves comes in strong opposition against BJP’s attempts to make inroads in Kerela.
The only way Rahul Gandhi candidacy from Wayanad could hurt the party was its relationship with disguntled ally JD(S), had he trailed towards a loss. A loss could have raised questions over his leadership.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, there were a total of 1718401 eligible electors and the voter turnout was calculated at %. The seat went to the polls on Phase 5 on Monday, May 6, 2019.
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