Indian National Congress (INC) President Rahul Gandhi’s announcement to contest within the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Kerala’s Wayanad district along with his Amethi stronghold has stunned many and raised necessary questions concerning the strategic impulses in the back of the transfer.
Located within the Northern areas of Kerala, the Wayanad district is geographically important as it’s the most effective district to percentage borders with each the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency used to be carved out in 2008 and has seven meeting segments, 3 from the Wayanad district, 3 from the Mallapuram district and one from the Kozhikode district. In each the 2009 elections and the 2014 elections the Congress Party and its consultant MI Shanavas has emerged victorious. Following Shanavas’ dying in November 2018, the seat has remained vacant. The Wayanad district additionally bureaucracy a part of the agrarian belt in Kerala with most effective 3.86 % dwelling in city spaces. Politically, the Congress get together with the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) as its best friend has ruled the constituency even though Communist Party of India (CPI) has registered important toughen, registering a 38.92 % vote percentage compared to Shavanas’s 41.2 % in 2014. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) even though has had little good fortune within the constituency, most effective managing a paltry 8.82 %.
The Political Significance of the South and Kerala in 2019
South India holds immense importance to the Congress Party within the 2019 elections. The BJP hasn’t ever had a vital political presence in Andhra Pradesh (and Telangana), Tamil Nadu and Kerala, with Karnataka the one southern state to have had the BJP in energy. While the Congress itself is relegated to the position of a bit-part political best friend in each Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala stay necessary states in its bid to extend its seats within the Lok Sabha. Equally necessary is that the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Telangana stay immune to the Saffron wave. By opting for to contest within the South, in Kerala, in a constituency that borders Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Rahul Gandhi will hope to assist create a surge within the Congress’s hopes within the South, partly through conveying the significance the get together puts at the South.
The state of Kerala, specifically, will play a an important position in figuring out the fortunes of the Congress get together in 2019. The state is one in all only some really winnable states for the Congress, which shaped the state executive with its United Democratic Front (UDF) in 2011, most effective to lose it to the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in 2016. Recent controversies such because the Sabarimala factor in addition to violence between vigilantes representing the Left and the BJP in spaces like Kannur have located the Congress in a good place whilst weakening the Left considerably. While Pinarayi Vijayan’s LDF executive will level towards its a lot lauded control of the devastating 2018 floods, the Congress fancies its possibilities in Kerala. By positioning himself within the constituency of Wayanad, Rahul Gandhi will hope to put across to the folks of Kerala the particular place of the state to the Congress get together.
What is the INC’s Strategy?
Political commentators have famous that the South has traditionally been an insurance coverage price ticket for the Congress – steadily used as a final hotel when election campaigns fail in the remainder of India. However, for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi’s determination to contest from the Wayanad district of Kerala has a special really feel to it given the explosive Hindutva politics it’s striving to problem.
The BJP’s unabashed Hindutva posturing has supplied considerable political subject material for the Congress to paintings with, permitting the Congress to solid the BJP in a communal and anti-secular mild. The BJP and Narendra Modi have branded Gandhi’s transfer as cowardly, alleging that he’s contesting in Wayanad as a result of he’s afraid of Hindus after lamenting on Hindu terror, thus implying that Hindus are in a minority within the district. However, in keeping with the 2011 census, Hindus shaped a plurality of the inhabitants in Wayanad with 49.five %; Muslims made up 28.6 %, and Christians 21.Three %.
The strategic good thing about Gandhi’s transfer is strictly this: As the Congress get together is branded as a mundane political get together, it makes electoral sense to contest in a religiously various constituency which has supported the Congress since 2009. This transfer is a reputedly reverse method to Gandhi’s bastion in Amethi – which has the next share of Hindus within the middle of Uttar Pradesh and the BJP’s fort. But in strategic phrases, contesting from two very other constituencies will bolster Rahul Gandhi’s probabilities of successful a parliamentary seat if he has ambitions of changing into top minister.
Moreover, given the result of the previous two Lok Sabha elections in Kerala, Congress appears to be the get together of selection after the Communist Party of India (CPI). Given Kerala’s affinity to communist and socialist ideologies, if sections of the voters are for any explanation why having a look to switch their political allegiance, the Congress is a a lot more viable and acquainted possibility than the BJP, as an example. The BJP’s militant Hindutva insurance policies and slogans and cow vigilante actions are not going to realize resonance among the various and skilled inhabitants in Kerala. The contemporary Sabarimala factor may be a significant bone of rivalry between all political events contesting in Kerala as all of them scrambled to outline the meanings of secularism, religiosity, and feminism within the state.
Rahul Gandhi’s contestation in Wayanad makes the Congress’s case in Kerala even more potent as he’s combating along fellow party-member Shashi Tharoor, possibly the Congress’s hottest flesh presser who’s contesting from Thiruvananthapuram – a constituency he has held since 2009. If Gandhi wins from both constituency (or certainly each), it’s going to point out to the Congress get together what the leanings and demographic makeup of its toughen bases are. They can then posture their long term insurance policies accordingly.
Pravin Prakash is an Associate Research Fellow with the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) on the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore.
Juhi Ahuja is an unbiased political analyst. She used to be previously a Senior Analyst on the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) on the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore.