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Rahul for Wayanad is political bankruptcy of Congress, party ignores horrors of fascism: Annie Raja

Their national leadership has basically given a stick in the hands of the BJP by contesting against an INDIA ally, said the CPI candidate

K.M. Rakesh Published 21.04.24, 06:18 AM
CPI candidate Annie Raja (centre) campaigns in Wayanad.  

CPI candidate Annie Raja (centre) campaigns in Wayanad.   Annie Raja’s Facebook page

Annie Raja of the CPI is the primary rival of Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad where the Congress leader won by over 4 lakh votes in 2019. General secretary of the party’s National Federation of Indian Women, Annie is expected to make this election a closely fought one unlike five years ago when Rahul’s presence in Kerala helped the Congress-led United Democratic Front win 19 of the state’s 20 Lok Sabha seats.

The CPI leader, a prominent face in national-level agitations, took time off her campaign to speak to The Telegraph in Wayanad.

  • Among the Congress and LDF — both INDIA bloc partners — who should have stepped aside to avoid a direct contest in Wayanad?

The ground reality of the LDF (Left Democratic Front) and UDF (United Democratic Front), which work as rival alliances in Kerala, was discussed during the formative stage of the INDIA bloc. It is a state-specific arrangement. The INDIA (bloc) leaders decided not to disturb that.

The biggest challenge facing all secular parties is communal fascism. So, a coming together of Left-secular parties had become imperative to defeat the communal fascists.

I started my campaign on March 1 and the UDF picked its candidate (Rahul) several days later. Their national leadership should have given a thought to who is the main opponent.

  • According to you, what prompted the Congress to insist on fielding Rahul in Wayanad?

In all this, I see political bankruptcy of the Congress. Their national leadership has basically given a stick in the hands of the BJP by contesting against an INDIA ally.

(The) Congress-ruled states had offered seats to Rahul Gandhi to avoid this contest. So, the complete responsibility is with Rahul Gandhi. He could have taken a decision not to contest in Wayanad. You go on a Bharat Jodo Yatra to defeat fascism, but then fight those who stand by you (to defeat fascism).

  • Several Congress leaders have been accused of ado­pting a soft Hindutva stand in other states. How do you see the Congress in Kerala that is often accused of taking the Centre’s side against the LDF government?

It’s no secret that some of their leaders do take a soft Hindutva position. Their leaders in Kerala didn’t stand up for the state when denied its rightful tax share, grants and loan entitlement.

  • Is it because the Congress in Kerala thinks they are a separate unit far removed from the national reality?

They think Kerala is a different country. They don’t realise the horrors of the onslaught of fascism. If they don’t realise this, then it is the responsibility of the national leadership to make them understand. Rahul Gandhi also fell into that trap.

In these 76 years, the Cen­tre gave Rs 200 as old-age pension. The state is adding Rs 1,400 to make it Rs 1,600, although even that is
hardly enough.

  • Did you consider contest­ing from Thiruvanantha­puram against Shashi Tharoor?

My name was first linked to Thiruvananthapuram, then to Thrissur, and later to Wayanad. They were merely media speculation.

Kerala votes on April 26

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