LS POLLS: Rahul aims to ride piggyback on Muslim strengths in Wayanad Lok Sabha polls

NEW DELHI: While perceptions are that Rahul Gandhi is aiming to ride piggyback on the Muslim support in Wayanad in Kerala, fact is that he’s not able to find a safe constituency for him even in eastern UP, where the Nehru family anchored its electoral base for many decades now. The AICC was seriously exercised in recent days about finding a safe seat for Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi would contest again from Amethi, but BJP nominee Smriti Irani is bound to put up a tough fight and even trounce the Congress president this time. This is not easy though. But, the Congress is caught on by this fear, also because Mayawati, a PM hopeful who is well-entrenched in Uttar Pradesh, will likely work for his defeat from behind. The BSP-SP combine has decided not to field any candidate in Amethi as also Rae Bareli where Sonia Gandhi will contest again. 

In effect, by not openly announcing support for Rahul or Sonia, and not fielding candidates there, the two regional parties might be eventually playing mischief – by way of shifting their votes to the nearest rivals of the two Congress leaders. To this extent, the scenario this time seems to be developing in treacherous ways in Amethi and Rae Bareli, despite the waves new party in charge for the region, Priyanka Gandhi is making with her Ganga Yatra etc.

Indira Gandhi, when she was put on the defensive in the North, had come to Chikmagalur in Karnataka and Medak in undivided Andhra Pradesh, both tribal areas, to contest and win Lok Sabha polls. Wayanad in Kerala is also a tribal belt. Opponents of the Congress say the Nehru family’s game is always one of fooling the poor tribals, Muslims, and poorly informed sections of the people to win elections.

Karnataka is no more safe for the Congress, as the BJP is still strong there, constituency by constituency. In the last assembly polls, the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the house, but was checkmated by a post-poll alliance by the Congress and the JDS, who in turn bargained and took the CM post. The two Telugu states are also not safe for the Congress or Rahul Gandhi, as regional parties call the shots there, and Chandrababu Naidu and his TDP cannot be trusted upon. Naidu is capable of playing any game against anyone, and no one ever trusted him, including his father-in-law, the late NT Rama Rao, whose leg he pulled to take over the party and become chief minister in undivided Andhra Pradesh.

Under the circumstances, away from the BJP’s power houses in the Hindi belt, the South was where Rahul Gandhi could look for a safe second seat. Here too, only Kerala offered some hope. But, after the Sabarimala protests, the equations have somewhat changed. Hindu votes are no more dependable for the Congress in the state. Hence, the turn to an essentially Muslim and tribal vote base. IHN-NN

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