Congress president Rahul Gandhi won from the Wayanad constituency of Kerala with a vote margin of over 4.5 lakh. It was the second seat he contested during the elections apart from his traditional stronghold of Amethi.
In Wayanad, Gandhi’s NDA opponent Thushar Vellappally, chief of Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), did not make much of a dent, while Left candidate PP Suneer’s got over 2.7 lakh votes.
Gandhi was expected to win Wayanad, considered a safe seat for the Congress. The late MI Shanavas had won the seat twice before, in 2009 and 2014.
His decision to contest from the constituency had invited sharp reactions the Left, which criticised him for a move that signalled he was them instead of the BJP.
On Thursday, CPI General Secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy told PTI the “Sabarimala undercurrent” helped the UDF electorally in Kerala.
Modi had referred to Gandhi’s Wayanad candidature during a political rally in Wardha, saying the Congress president was scared after making remarks against the majority and had been forced to pick a minority-dominated seat.
However, Gandhi said it was to send a message to South India that he stood with them.
“There is a feeling in South India, a very strong feeling in South India, that they are not being carried (along) by the current government. South India feels hostility from Narendra Modi, they feel that they are not being included in the decisions of the country,” Gandhi said.
“So, I wanted to send a message to South India that we are with you and I am standing with you. That is why I am standing from Kerala,” he said in response to a question after the launch of the party’s manifesto.