A political strategy is the foundation of a winning campaign. That is the reason why Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi's decision to contest from Wayanad in Kerala can be termed as a political masterstroke. Despite the constituency is considered as Congress bastion, having elected the party candidates in two elections, Rahul's action will be a major boost for the Congress party. This move will put the workers more energetic and make them ready to take up the fight. Besides, it will push the party's prospects as the Wayanad constituency, as the place is located at the tri junction of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Kerala has been catching the nation's attention on several issues like Women's entry into Sabarimala Temple, 2018 Kerala Floods. When the Lok Sabha elections were announced there wasn't any noise about the Rahul Gandhi decision to contest in Kerala. After a week, there were some requests from local Congress leaders about their wish to make Rahul Gandhi contest from Kerala. Soon, Congress leaders also demanded Gandhi's candidature on March 23. But the Congress high command was tight lipped. There wasn't any news for the next few days. Rahul Gandhi and the All India Congress Committee stayed non-committal for a week. The suspense ended when the Congress party announced that Rahul will be contesting from the constituency. Immediately after this, the party's designated nominee T Siddique withdrew his nomination.
There are several reasons behind Rahul Gandhi's decision to contest in Wayanad. Firstly, the Congress is popular and has a strong support in the region. The party won the last two parliamentary elections. Though many consider the seat is not safe, Rahul's fray could boost the winning chance. Secondly, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not has a strong presence in the constituency and in the state. The only opponent is the Communist Party of India (CPI), which is a part of Left Democratic Front (LDF), which is also fighting to promote a secular alliance against the ruling BJP. Thirdly, Rahul Gandhi going to Wayanad can have a ripple effect across other states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. Fourthly, Rahul nomination can also be termed as the party's outreach to south India. In the past, several Congress leaders like Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi chose a seat in the South India. While Indira chose Medak in Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana) and Sonia Gandhi chose Bellary in Karnataka as second seats.
Wayanad is a rural district in Kerala. The Lok Sabha constituency came into existence in 2008, after the fourth delimitation. The constituency consists of 7 assembly segments from three districts of the state -- Wayanad, Kozhikode and Malappuram. In the last two Lok Sabha elections in 2009 and 2014, Congress candidate MI Shanavas won from Wayanad. In 2009, he won with a margin of 1.5 lakh votes over his closest opponent from the Communist Party of India (CPI). In 2019, he won the seat but with a margin of 11,000 votes. It should be noted that he secured only 41.20 per cent, while M Rahmathulla of CPI won 38.92 per cent.
District-level data show that Wayanad has 49.5 percent Hindus, 21.5 per cent Christians and 28.8 per cent Muslims. Wayanad district has three assembly segments that come under Wayanad Lok Sabha seat - Mananthavady, Sulthanbathery and Kalpetta. The other four are Thiruvamabady in Kozhikode district; and Eranad, Nilambur and Wandoor in Malappuram district. Malappuram has 70 per cent Muslims, 28 per cent Hindus and 2 per cent Christians. When all the demographic data are merged, one can find that Muslims hold the majority in Wayanad with around 48 per cent and Hindus 41 per cent.
Rahul has made a powerful strategy by contesting in Wayanad and he has sent a strong signal to the opposition that he would take the side of the southern state against any negative invasion from the powerful Central government. He is also preventing BJP from returning to power in 2019. Besides, the Rahul is fighting against Left Democratic Front (LDF), which is the ruling the state. His candidature gives a strong impression that Congress is also against the Left Parties.
Many political experts feel that Congress should not engage in a direct war against the Left Front. They opine that Congress must join hands with them to form a strong force to challenge the BJP in states like West Bengal, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh. Rahul's move creates a kind of contradiction in the election, where several state level alliances are also against BJP. Since the parties opposed to BJP are also opposed to one another in the states. Due to the importance of national politics, it is always good to cooperate to form a secular alliance.
A good political strategy is the roadmap to success. The game plan to contest in Wayanad by Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi is a bold decision. Despite the recent win by Congress by a narrow margin in the region, Rahul's entry will surely stimulate Congress party. Moreover, party's prospects in the Wayanad constituency which is located at the junction of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka will improve and send positive waves across these states.