Rahul Gandhi's likely candidature in Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala has put the Left parties in an existential bind.
The Communist Party of India (CPI), the second largest constituent of the Left Democratic Front (LDF), could be the biggest loser. A CPI candidate is contesting in Wayanad and the party was hoping to cash in on the feuds in the Wayanad district unit of the Congress to wrest the seat.
The Wayand constituency is spread over three districts – Wayanad, Kozhikode and Malappuram. Four of the seven assembly segments have LDF legislators. It has an upper hand at the gram panchayat level too, ruling 29 of the 50 panchayats.
But then, Lok Sabha poll is a different league all together, all the more if the national chief of the Congress is contesting.
In 2014, CPI's Satyan Mokeri had shrunk the margin of sitting Congress MP M I Shanavas to just over 20,000 votes from a whopping 1,50,000-odd votes in 2009. Shahnawaz passed away late last year.
This time, the CPI was hoping to bridge that gap and wrest the seat by fielding P P Suneer, former district secretary of the party.
Realistically, out of the four seats it is contesting in Kerala, the CPI has a fighting chance only in Mavelikkara. So, if Rahul contests from Wayanad, it may have a ripple effect and CPI could lose that seat too, forget about Wayanad.
That means its national party status would be under scanner.
The same issue is nagging the CPM, which heads the LDF in Kerala.
That is why CPM politburo member and state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan questioned the message the Congress would be sending out if Rahul were to be fielded in Kerala.
In other words, the CPM loathes such a prospect.
Ironically, it was a group led by Pinarayi, euphemistically called Kerala lobby, which had derailed CPM's proposed tie-up with Congress even in West Bengal.
The CPM's Kerala unit, which doesn't want a tie-up with Congress, can't digest the candidature of Rahul Gandhi in Kerala, the only state where it has a semblance of a chance to get a handful of lawmakers and retain its national status.
This is the rationale behind the CPM portraying Rahul's proposed candidature as a ploy to weaken the Left and strengthen the BJP.
The Left is also worried that if a candidate of the stature of Rahul contests from Kerala, a huge chunk of Muslims who favoured the CPM-led coalition in the last assembly polls, might switch loyalties to the Congress, as a party capable of taking on Modi-led BJP at the national level. That would make it a twin blow.
The infighting in the Congress, which delayed the list of candidates, would also be given a decent burial once Rahul contests in Kerala.
The CPM was hoping to exploit the faultlines in Congress to the hilt as a poll strategy.
Pushed to the corner
If the BJP decides to rope in a heavyweight candidate in Wayanad – already talk is that the BJP would takeover the seat from ally BDJS - the Left would be further pushed to the corner. It would be forced to back Rahul by default in such a scenario.
The BJP's dilemma is also somewhat similar. It fancies a chance in two or three seats in the state, going by its calculation that the Sabarimala agitation has boosted its acceptance level.
Regardless of the merits of this line of thinking working out, the BJP is hoping to cash in on this 'godsend goodwill' to get 1-2 seats and make a dent in the rest.
Now, such calculations will again go for a toss if Rahul contests.
The whole spotlight would then fall on a prospective PM's candidature from the state, which has traditionally given an edge to the Congress in Lok Sabha elections.
The ripple effect of Rahul's candidature would be felt in all constituencies in the state, thereby weakening the LDF's cause again.
The LDF is playing up the post-poll scenario which may necessitate an arrangement between opposition parties to thwart a Rahul-in-Wayanad scenario.
The BJP is claiming that Rahul is leaving Amethi out of fear of defeat.
Now, we know why such poll tantrums are getting shriller.
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