By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It might sound hyperbolic. But it is true. Rahul Gandhi came; he saw and he conquered. The massive turnout at Rahul’s road show at Kalpeta town which followed his nomination-filing from Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency has raised the anxiety levels in the Left Democratic Front camp as well as in BJP circles.
Of course, crowds can be brought to any political meeting if you have deep pockets. But what set the Rahul show apart was the visible and enthusiastic response of the people who attended it in large numbers. They danced, cheered and shouted slogans in praise of the ‘future Prime Minister’. No wonder, both Congress leaders as well as their counterparts in the party’s allies like the Indian Union Muslim League and Kerala Congress(M) are over the moon.
But the most important question is: Does the Congress have the organizational wherewithal and machinery to ensure that the overflowing enthusiasm is translated into votes? The answer is in the affirmative, say top Congress leaders in Kerala.
The meeting of booth level leaders which Rahul had convened sometime back has energized the party, aver KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran and leader of the opposition Ramesh Chennithala. The revitalization of the party at the booth level would stand the Congress in good stead, they contend. A visibly jubilant Mullappally repeated that it would be 20 out of 20 in Kerala for the UDF.
Conversely, the mood in the LDF camp is sombre. There is no mistaking the sense of unease pervading the front. But the LDF is not letting the Rahul effect to lower their guard. The LDF leaders are pretty confident of undoing the damage and coming up trumps in the poll battle.
Evidently, the LDF is cut up with the Congress for bringing Rahul to Wayanad. After all, Kerala is the only state from where the CPI(M) and the CPI can hope to win a decent number of Lok Sabha seats. Rahul’s presence in Wayanad has obviously spoiled the party and created doubts in the left leaders’ minds.
On its part, the Congress too has its own political compulsions and calculations which influenced the decision to field Rahul from Wayanad as well. Kerala is one of the two states in South India from where the Congress can send an impressive number of MPs to the Lok Sabha. That being the ground reality, the Congress cannot be blamed for choosing the ‘safest seat’ in South for their boss.
It is against this backdrop that the statement of Rahul Gandhi has to be viewed and analysed. “I have come to Wayanad to deliver a strong message”: to represent the South, which is reeling under the undisguised hostility of the Modi Government. The fight, therefore, is against the BJP-RSS combine. “I won’t utter a single word against the CI(M) I understand their compulsions to attack me. I will absorb all their attacks happily.” This was the crisp remark the Gandhi scion made while he was in Wayanad.
Clearly, this was an attempt to erase the impression that his candidature from Wayanad would weaken his resolve to oust the Modi Government.
What remains to be seen is whether the Left leaders will reciprocate the sentiments voiced by Rahul. If the initial reaction of the CPI(M) leaders is anything to go, they won’t soften their hostile stand against the Congress. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan made no bones about it.
And that would have a negative effect on efforts to cobble together a cohesive anti-BJP front at the national level. The need of the hour, therefore, is to exercise restraint and cry a halt to the internecine sniping between the left parties and the Congress. The consequence of their failure to do so would be disastrous not only for the secular and anti-BJP forces but also for the country. For, this election would decide whether India will remain a secular democratic Republic as envisioned by the founding fathers of the Constitution. (IPA Service)