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It was on last Saturday the state leadership of the Congress party made a statement taking the entire population and party workers on a high. The announcement that the Indian National Congress (INC) President Rahul Gandhi might contest from Wayanad, one of the party’s stronghold in the state, came as a big surprise.

The news became a sensation both in the state and at the national level in no time. Party workers were seen upbeat and there were discussions on the boons and banes of Mr. Gandhi contesting elections from South India.There were praiseswhich were met with sharp criticisms from the opposite.

It is interesting nobody bothered to give a second thought on the chances of such a possibility. The veracity of the news was undoubted, perhaps, as it was confirmed by All Indian Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary and former chief minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy.Kerala Congress Pradesh Committee (KPCC) President Mullappally Ramachandran also maintained that the state leadership had requested to Mr. Gandhi to contest from Wayanad – adding more strength to the words of Mr. Chandy.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala welcomed the move. Soon Congress’s Kozhikode District Congress Committee (DCC) President T Siddique, the proposed candidate in Wayanad, backed out with pleasure.

The Congress camp lacking in spirit was pumped with enormous energy. Workers were rejuvenated and the air was thick of excitement. The news gave a major leap for the Congress in the election campaign. They were opinions that Mr. Gandhi’s candidacy in Kerala will trigger a wave influencing entire South India.

But as on Thursday, despite being five days after an announcement, there is no confirmation whether Mr. Gandhi will be contesting from Kerala. AICC, the national level decision making body of the INC had not spoken anything on this officially. There is no denial or confirmation from their part. And the major alliance partners of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has come out against the move.

The revitalised party workers are left with pall on the face and the excitement in the air has evaporated. The atmosphere is gloomy and the rays of hope are dim.

It is unknown on what grounds have the senior Congress leaders made such a statement. But it has done enough damage to the party and even its national President in the meantime.

The election campaigns in Wayanad constituency has come to a sudden halt as there is no Congress candidate at present. Even the image of Mr. Gandhi, who was seen as a formidable opponent against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has faded.

Rahul was seen as a secular face who has arisen out to fight the communal forces lead by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bharatiya Janata Party. But his candidacy in South India particularly in Kerala was interpreted by his opponents as an act of cowardice. The left has questioned the real motif of the move and criticised the Congress citing that who are they really fighting – communalists or communists.

Anyhow, the delay in resolving the issue might turn as a boomerang for the Congress party in Kerala. Dilly-dallying over the issue might force the leadership to pay a hefty penalty for the goof-up. Wayanad is one constituency in the state which the Congress is confident of winning. But Congress should not take it for granted and test the patience of the voters in the constituency.

Jestin Abraham is a journalist

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