After filing his nomination from Kerala's Wayanad for the national election, Rahul Gandhi declared today that he would "not say a word against" the ruling Left. He also said he was fight from the north as well as the south to counter attempts by the BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
"There is a tussle between the Congress and the CPM, and that battle may continue in future, but I am here to tell the people of Kerala that while I will defend all the allegations made by CPM about me, I will not be making a single attack on the CPM. You will not hear a word against the CPM from me," said Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress president was speaking to reporters after filing documents as a candidate from Wayanad. He landed there by a helicopter this morning, along with his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and headed to the district collectorate office in Kalpetta, NDTV reports.
"Be it the north, the northeast and here in the south too, the RSS and BJP are trying to destroy their culture and history.... Hence I have decided to counter that, and that is why one of the places I am contesting from is the south," he told reporters.
The Left Democratic Front has been upset with the Congress over Rahul Gandhi's decision. The move, it believed, would only help the BJP.
"It goes against Congress' national commitment to fight BJP, as in Kerala it is Left Democratic Front which is the main force fighting BJP there," CPM leader Prakash Karat told news agency ANI. "To pick a candidate like Rahul Gandhi against the Left means that the Congress is going to target the Left in Kerala. This is something which we will strongly oppose and in this election, we will work to ensure the defeat of Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad," he said.
The Congress announced last weekend that its chief would contest from the hilly Kerala district in addition to the Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh that has voted him to parliament since 2004, his first election.
The Congress president's decision to contest from a second seat bolstered the BJP's charge that Rahul Gandhi is "running away" because he is unsure of his prospects in Amethi, where he has been challenged by Union Minister Smriti Irani for the second time.
The Congress says by choosing Wayanad, Rahul Gandhi will be contesting from a seat that, in a way, represents three southern states. Wayanad shares borders with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Wayanad, a relatively backward region, is home to Kerala's largest tribal population. Eighteen per cent of the district's vote share is that of tribals.
The NDA coalition has fielded Thushar Vellapally of the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena to take on the Congress president.
Wayanad will vote on April 23 and Amethi on May 6. The counting of votes in the staggered national election will be held on May.