regular-article-logo Friday, 09 June 2023

Wayanad protests Rahul's disqualification in one voice

Leaders cutting across party lines rally behind Rahul, denouncing the govt's extreme move at such short notice

K.M. Rakesh Bangalore Published 25.03.23, 03:07 AM
Rahul Gandhi with the elected UDF and LSGI members from Wayanad on March 21.

Rahul Gandhi with the elected UDF and LSGI members from Wayanad on March 21. PTI

Wayanad decried the “attack on democracy” and erupted in protests following the disqualification of its Lok Sabha member Rahul Gandhi, who was singularly responsible for catapulting the somnolent hill district in Kerala to the mainstream discourse by winning by a record margin in 2019.

Wayanad has always celebrated Rahul — from the day he decided to contest to his most recent visit last week — and the haste with which the Lok Sabha secretariat disqualified him following his conviction in a defamation case has leftthe constituency staring at a by-election.


Leaders cutting across party lines rallied behind Rahul, denouncing the disqualification at such short notice when the magistrate’s court itself had provided 30 days to challenge its order in a higher court.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front held protests at various places in Wayanad. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan led the CPM’s all-out attack on the action against Rahul.

“This is the latest chapter of the Sangh parivar’s violent attack on democracy…. Using power to suppress dissent is a method used by the fascists. It is an important leader of the Opposition who is thus being attacked,” Vijayan said in a statement.

“The intolerance to criticism is endangering our democracy. Those who believe in democracy must come forward and react strongly in light of this action against Rahul Gandhi,” the chief minister added.

Rahul’s candidature in Wayanad had galvanised the Congress and led to a UDF landslide in 2019. The UDF won 19 of the 20 Lok Sabha seats. Rahul defeated P.P. Suneer of the CPI by 4,31,770 votes, a record margin in Wayanad.

Left Democratic Front convener and senior CPM leader E.P.Jayarajancameoutinsupport of Rahul even before the disqualification order.

“A close observation of the background leading to this verdict would give rise to doubts in the minds of the people. Neither the law enforcement authorities nor the courts should be misused for political revenge,” he told a news channel in Kannur.

CPM Rajya Sabha member John Brittas tweeted: “When Parliament itself is treated shabbily, it’s not surprising to see the lightning speed with which @RahulGandhi is disqualified. RIP for democracy is not very far!” Even CPM leaders in Wayanad who had campaigned against Rahul denounced the disqualification.

District CPM Secretary P. Gagarin told reporters: “He is a failure as an MP. But using such tactics to finish him politically is part of the larger agenda against democracy itself.”

Leader of the Opposition V.D.Satheesan of the Congress said: “All democratic forces and the people of Kerala will stay united with Rahul Gandhi at this important juncture.”

District Congress leaders, who had toiled during the 2019 campaign, were hopeful of justice prevailing. “We respect court verdicts. But the Lok Sabha secretariat’s action was too abrupt and a major challenge to democratic values,” Wayanad Congress office-bearer Shamsad Marakkar told reporters as his party began mobilising protests.

“Criticising Narendra Modi should not be the criteria for disqualification,” he added.

Rahul last visited Wayanad on March 20 after a party rally at Belgaum in poll-bound Karnataka. That was his second visit to his constituency after completing the Bharat Jodi Yatra.

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