As Wayanad prepares to host the Navakerala Sadas on Thursday, the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) is pinning hopes on the State government’s public outreach programme to strike a better chord with the people in the hill district.
Wayanad, the only minority district in Kerala as categorised by the Union government, has proven politically elusive for Left parties since Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s electoral foray into the Lok Sabha constituency in 2019.
The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has the upper hand in the constituency, covering the entire Wayanad district, three Assembly segments in Malappuram district, and a single segment in Kozhikode district since its inception in 2009. However, its candidate, the late M.I. Shanavas, who secured a victory with a margin of over 1.5 lakh votes in the initial run, witnessed a depletion in vote share, with a victory margin of over 20,000 votes in the 2014 polls.
For various reasons, including the novelty factor and the glamour quotient, Mr. Gandhi’s victory margin made a quantum jump to 4.31 lakh votes. While the electorate gained a high-profile MP, the people of this backward district achieved nothing, CPI(M) leaders alleged.
C.K. Saseendran, former MLA and LDF convener, told The Hindu that Mr. Gandhi had been indifferent to issues concerning the common man. “Construction of alternative roads to the Thamarassery Ghat Road on NH 766, the night traffic ban on Karnataka’s part of the NH, and the increasing incidents of man-animal conflict are our main concerns,” he said. He added that the Navakerala Sadas presented an opportunity to people to raise these issues before the Cabinet. “However, the Left parties would not target Mr. Gandhi at the State government event,” Mr. Saseendran said, adding that Mr. Gandhi’s five-year performance would be thoroughly examined during the Lok Sabha polls next year.
He alleged that Mr. Gandhi, as the representative of the Wayanad constituency, had failed to take up the travel ban on the NH-766 stretch through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. with the Karnataka government.
On the other hand, District Congress Committee president N.D. Appachan dismissed the State government’s Navakerala Sadas as a “gimmick” to deceive the public and divert attention from the anti-people policies of the LDF government.
Mr. Gandhi, he pointed out, always stood by his constituency, interacting with people on all issues concerning them despite being a national leader. “Alternative routes to the Thamarassery Ghat Road could be easily constructed by the State government if it wanted to,” he said.