Jolt for INDIA as CPI stakes claim to Wayanad, announces Annie Raja’s candidature

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 26 (IANS) Spelling fresh discord in the INDIA bloc, the CPI on Monday announced four candidates from Kerala for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, including Annie Raja, wife of party General Secretary D. Raja, from Wayanad – presently held by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Announcing the candidates, Kerala CPI state Secretary Binoy Viswam asked the Congress to explain if Rahul Gandhi need to contest from Kerala only and not from north India.

Noting even while the CPI and the Congress are part of the INDIA block, he said: “We have the highest regards for Gandhi and he has the right to contest from any constituency in the country, but the Congress has to answer questions if he is going to contest from Wayanad.”

“The Congress party has to answer if Gandhi should contest from Kerala which has just 20 seats and not from north India,” he added.

Incidentally a row had broken out after the CPI’s national leadership in September last year decided to convey to the Congress that as the CPI was a part of the INDIA bloc, Gandhi should not contest from Wayanad. However, this was met with stiff resistance from the CPI-M-led Left and the CPI dropped the idea, but on Monday, this issue surfaced again.

Annie Raja expressed happiness that her party has selected her for Wayanad. “I am happy to accept the directive of the party and my assurance to the people of Wayanad is, I will always be with them,” she said, in her first reaction.

“Another reason why I am happy to fight it out at Wayanad is, I learned the basics of politics at Wayanad,” she added.

Incidentally Annie Raja hails from Iritty, which borders the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, but has always been based out of Delhi with her husband, who is now the topmost leader of the CPI.

This will be Annie Raja’s first electoral battle in Kerala and in Wayanad, where Gandhi won a landslide victory in the 2019 polls with the highest margin in the state of 4.31 lakh votes.

Among the three other candidates that was announced include 78-year-old Pannyan Raveendran, the CPI’s veteran former state Secretary and Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram, to take on the mighty and flamboyant Congress Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor, who has already won thrice from that seat.

Former state Agriculture Minister VS Sunilkumar will be taking on sitting Congress member T.N. Prathapan in the Thrissur seat and CA Arun Kumar will be taking on Congress veteran and seven-time sitting Mavelikera Lok Sabha member Kodikunnil Suresh.

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