As Wayanad prepares to accord a “grand reception” to its former MP and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, 11 April — his first visit to his constituency after disqualification from the Lok Sabha — party workers have stepped up their efforts to personally carry a signed letter from him to each voter of the northern hill district of Kerala.
The drive to personally take the letter to each voter began on a low ley on Friday, but was stepped on Monday and clearly indicates that the Gandhi family scion has no plans to abandon this safe political turf anytime soon.
The letter, which reaffirms his determination to fight BJP-RSS, also indicates that he would contest from Wayanad if the higher courts veto his disqualification before the general election.
For the ruling CPI(M) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) it heads, however, the letter is turning into a political challenge in Wayanad, where the BJP has an insignificant presence.
Going to each voter
Congress workers have been carrying the letter to each household in the parliamentary constituency that is spread across three Assembly constituencies of Malappuram district and an Assembly constituency of Kozhikode district.
Written in an emotional reconnect, Rahul, in the letter. assures voters that he will continue to work for the people of Wayanad and be involved in their survival struggles.
A traditional citadel of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala, Wayanad shares borders with the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu and the Mysuru and Chamarajanagar districts of Karnataka.
‘Grand reception’ planned
On 11 April, a mass public gathering and a road show have been planned in the district headquarters of Kalpetta, and all UDF national and state leaders will attend it.
Thousands of UDF workers will also take part. The UDF is bringing in its workers from Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad, Kannur, and Kasaragod districts to mark the occasion with a show of strength.
Rahul last visited Wayanad in February, and he chose that occasion to come down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his alleged attempts to protect the nefarious interests of business magnate Gautam Adani.
After his disqualification from the Lok Sabha, the phone and internet services at his local office in Kalpetta were severed by public sector BSNL.
The LDF’s challenge
When Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from Lok Sabha, Kerala Chief Minister and CPI(M) Politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan was among the traditional political rivals of Congress who put their anomosity on hold, at least temporarily, and came out in support of him.
This was in contradiction to attempts of the CPI(M) and LDF in the last four years to dub him as the weakest Lok Sabha member from Kerala.
Hardly an year has gone by since the CPI(M)’s student wing, the Students Federation of India (SFI) ransacked his local office and placed a plantain tree on his chair to protest his inaction and silence over the buffer zone controversy that had rocked the state.
Now, the support extended by Vijayan and other LDF leaders over the disqualification to Rahul will cost them dearly. For one, it would not be easy to denounce Rahul as Kerala’s weakest MP as before.
Apart from becoming the focal point of anti-Modi forces at the national level, Rahul has now indicated that he will not abandon the Wayanad constituency.
Four years ago, the national level Congress-Left unity was broken when Rahul chose to contest in Wayanad.
CPI(M) presence in Parliament
Rahul Gandhi’s appearance on the electoral scene in Kerala energised the UDF and helped it to win 19 of the 20 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state.
Now, the LDF finds a much stronger Rahul, displaying a renewed vigour to fight Modi and the BJP.
It would be tough for the LDF to ensure a largescale political battle against Rahul and UDF not just in Wayanad but also in all other constituencies in Kerala.
If Rahul helps the UDF win most of the Lok Sabha seats from Kerala, as he did in 2019, the Left’s representation in the Lok Sabha would remain meagre.
In the present Lok Sabha, the CPI(M) has only one member from Kerala — AM Arif who won from Alappuzha. The CPI(M) and CPI have two members each from Tamil Nadu, where the Left parties are alliance partners of the DMK, along with Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) — two parties they are opposed to in Kerala.
For the Congress and the UDF, Rahul Gandhi remains the biggest advantage in terms of the Lok Sabha election in Kerala.
A minority vote consolidation in Rahul’s favour could make situation easy for the UDF. The strong anti-incumbency feel prevailing in Kerala against the Vijayan government will also be advantageous for the UDF.
Rahul’s Letter: I will not bow down
Here goes a complete translation of the letter written in Malayalam:
Dear brothers and sisters,
You chose me as your representative four years ago. It was a great honour to represent Wayanad in the Lok Sabha. In all these years, you have showered much love and affection on me. I treat and consider you as equal to my immediate family members. I do understand your hopes, anxieties and concerns. As the Wayanad MP, I observed your determination and willpower in fighting survival challenges from close quarters. On numerous occasions, I saw you fight adversities with extreme dignity.
During my early days as the local MP, I found how much compassion and courage you showed during the massive deluge. As your MP, I reached out to people from all walks of life in the constituency. I understand the issues and worries concerning you. To an extent, I have addressed the major challenges you faced. We have done many things, but they must be done as follow-ups. A healthy future for Wayanad requires many more actions. I will continue striving my very best to resolve all the burning issues confronting Wayanad.
I extend my wholehearted thanks to all workers of the Indian National Congress, United Democratic Front, officials, volunteers, well-wishers and others for making my association with the constituency fruitful. A big salute to them for the teamwork we have done. The teamwork makes me proud and humble. The people here are keeping me close to their hearts. Beyond party politics, you found me integral to your existence.
Our country is now going through a crucial situation. You must have noticed how the BJP government is undermining democratic institutions in the country. I have told you many times about how BJP and RSS are shaking the foundations of our democracy. My latest experience is a clear example of how they are undermining democracy. They disqualified me from the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister had no reply to my disturbing questions. It exposes the BJP’s attitude to democratic debates and procedures. Strangely, a ruling front disrupts parliament proceedings to protect vested interests that face allegations.
We have to wake up and fight this dictatorial government. It’s our duty. You and I have to contribute our best to this fight. Here ordinary people are reeling under price rise and unemployment. At the same time, the prime minister is extending help to his wealthy and above-the-law friends, subverting the rules and procedures. We have to protect our country; its people are their wealth. They must not be exploited by the rich and powerful.
Our fight is for truth, democracy and constitutional values. The fight involves you and me. I feel courageous in the battle because of the enormous support extended by India’s ordinary people. Wayanad’s residents have a crucial role in the fight. We must be together on this journey. We were together on the journey from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. Your support is my strength in this continuing journey. We have to protect our homeland India collectively. We would spread messages of love and care.
I will not bow down before those who attempt to destroy Indian democracy. I assure you that I will continue the fight. I will continue the fight keeping my head held high.