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'Rahul should not contest from Wayanad'

By ARCHANA MASIH
February 29, 2024 12:22 IST
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'He should not come to Kerala and fight against the CPI which is an integral part of the INDIA alliance'

IMAGE: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi pays tribute to Pazhassi Raja at his tomb at Mananthavadi in Wayanad. Photograph: ANI Photo

"Why is Rahul contesting the seat himself? We don't have any objection if a local or state level Congress leader contests because UDF has every right to field a candidate. [Congress leads the United Democratic Front alliance in Kerala.]

"But Rahul Gandhi who is the champion of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra and is supposed to coordinate all the Opposition political forces should not be contesting from Wayanad," CPI Rajya Sabha member P Sandosh Kumar tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih.

 

There is speculation about Rahul Gandhi contesting the 2024 Lok Sabha election from Wayanad. Now that CPI has announced Annie Raja's candidature, what is the CPI's view?

Rahul Gandhi contesting from Wayanad will not be helpful for the INDIA movement in the country. This question was posed to the Congress, but we did not get a clear answer.

It is a Congress seat no doubt, but the question is why is Rahul contesting the seat himself?

We don't have any objection if a local or state level Congress leader contests because it is a tight UDF-LDF fight and the UDF has every right to field a candidate. [Congress leads the United Democratic Front in Kerala; the Communist Party of India leads the Left Democratic Front in the state.]

But Rahul Gandhi who is the champion of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra and is supposed to coordinate all the Opposition political forces should not be contesting from Wayanad.

Do you think Ms Annie Raja will be compelled to vacate the seat for Rahul Gandhi?

No. The CPI has decided to field her because it is a seat for the CPI under the seat sharing adjustment with the LDF partners -- 15 to the CPI-M, 4 to the CPI and 1 to the Kerala Congress-Mani.

The LDF has formally announced the candidature of all 20 candidates.

In Kerala the fight is between the LDF and UDF, there is no point in vacating a seat for the UDF. Even if Rahul contests, he becomes a candidate of the UDF which is our Opposition front -- and why should we leave a seat for the Opposition? We will not withdraw the candidature.

Do you expect Rahul to not contest from Wayanad?

Rahul Gandhi should not come to Kerala and fight against the CPI because the CPI is an integral part of the INDIA alliance and has a good rapport and support with the Congress. So why should Rahul contest against the CPI and LDF in Kerala?

This was our question to which the Congress has not given a proper reply.

IMAGE: Bharatiya Janata Party Supremo Narendra Modi being felicitated by the BJP's Kerala president K Surendran in Thiruvananthapuram, February 27, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Do you think Rahul should fight against a BJP candidate considering his yatra is raising issues against the BJP?

Of course! The BJP is the enemy of the INDIA alliance and he should lead the fight.

The BJP says it will win 4-5 seats in Kerala.

This is manipulation. The prime minister is saying they will win 400 seats which is far from the truth. They have no real issues to bring to the people.

The politicisation of the Ram Mandir where the prime minister became a priest is their only issue. Kerala will give an emphatic zero to the BJP.

The prime minister has made several trips to Kerala and has held road shows.
Won't that bring seats for the BJP in Kerala?

He visited Karnataka 12 times and the BJP lost the election. Unfortunately, in our country, a section of the people believe in hard Hindutva and they have got a leader.

Hindutva has no impact in Kerala. I am a Hindu; there are a majority of Hindus in all political parties and we understand the difference between political Hindutva and Hinduism.

Political Hindutva is as detrimental as political Islam. We oppose both.

IMAGE: CPI-M leader Pinarayi Vijayan leads the Left Democratic Front protest against the central government's alleged discrimination against Kerala at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, February 8, 2024. Photograph: Ayush Sharma/ANI Photo

The RSS has the highest number of shakhas in Malabar and is making inroads into Kerala.
Does that not open doors for the BJP?

It may have the highest number of shakhas, but has the least number of gram panchayat members in Kerala. The RSS has been working since 1925 but hasn't made a difference in Kerala.

Hindutva forces are trying to make inroads everywhere in India through multiple activities, but in Kerala we are sure of the BJP's defeat. It will not win a single seat.

Doesn't the UDF-LDF confrontation in Kerala make a mockery of the INDIA alliance?

Not at all. The mockery is how the Congress MPs, CMs, MLAs are leaving the party and joining the BJP before the election. This is the mockery faced by the INDIA alliance.

The fight in Kerala between the UDF and LDF is not new, but we can uphold a national level government at the Centre and this fight is the best practical way to avoid the BJP in Kerala.

IMAGE: Rahul Gandhi with Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Agra, February 25, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

While the Left is marginalised everywhere else in the country, do you think it will retain its hold in Kerala?

After the introduction of the new economic policy in 1991, the poor, workers and downtrodden were sidelined and marginalised. The Left also got marginalised, but after the introduction of the Mandal Commission national parties lost their status -- the Congress lost Bihar, UP and South. Once a national political party loses its mass base, it is very difficult to regain it.

It is not only the question of the Left, all political parties are facing the same issue and we are hopeful of coming back.

So the CPI and CPI-M will be like regional entities like the Samajwadi Party in UP, the RJD in Bihar?

We have cadres from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. We may not be a big force in electoral politics, but we are with the trade unions, student movements and others.

The Left is a political ideology; it is a political force while the SP and RJD have a background of a particular caste and social equations. We have a different mission and significant presence in all parts of the country.

IMAGE: Rahul Gandhi with family members of Ajeesh who was killed in a fatal elephant attack in Wayanad, February 18, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Do you think the IUML [the Indian Union Muslim League, which is part of the UDF and has a strong presence in Wayanad] will support Ms Annie Raja in Wayanad?

When we talk about practical politics, there are issues between the UDF partners, especially between the Muslim League and Congress, but I think they have settled the issue.

There is no point in expecting vertical support from the Muslim League but we expect the support of the voters, whether they are from Muslim League or Congress or other parties.

But we are not expecting the political support of any UDF partners.

IMAGE: CPI MP P Sandosh Kumar

Will organisations like the Nair Service Society (NSS) and Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalanayogam (SNDP) support the BJP? Will this pose a challenge to the entrenched players in Kerala politics?

These caste organisations cannot control Kerala politics like in north India.

In Manipur the Arambai Tenggol convened a meeting where 37 MLAs including from the BJP and others were present including the chief minister, and a Union minister.

One should realise the gravity of the situation when political leaders and parties are being controlled by ethnic and religious groups.

This is also happening in many other parts of India and Manipur is the latest example.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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ARCHANA MASIH / Rediff.com
 
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