BJP Picks Kerala Chief K Surendran To Take On Rahul Gandhi In Wayanad

Wayanad, a Congress stronghold, has been with the party since 2009.

New Delhi:

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will face Kerala BJP chief K Surendran in the high-profile Wayanand constituency this Lok Sabha election.

Wayanad, a Congress stronghold, has been with the party since 2009. Mr Gandhi won it in 2019 and retained his Lok Sabha membership, having lost his Amethi seat to Union Minister Smriti Irani.

His rival this time, Mr Surendran, has the significant task of challenging the Congress-Left binary in Kerala’s political landscape. Both the Congress and the Left are in a national alliance though they remain rivals in this southern state.

In 2019 general elections, Mr Surendran finished third in Pathanamthitta constituency behind the Congress and the Left. He had lost the 2016 assembly polls from Manjeswaram by merely 89 votes. He also contested a bypoll in 2019, but lost it as well.

He was appointed to head the BJP Kerala unit in 2020 and became the face of the protests against the entry of young women into Sabarimala years ago.

Mr Surendran, who is from Kozhikode, figured in the BJP’s fifth candidates’ list, which also named actor Kangana Ranaut and former Calcutta High Court judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay.

Wayanad is the second Kerala seat to see a battle of titans after Thiruvananthapuram, where Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar will face the three-time Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.

The BJP has also fielded former vice-chancellor of Sree Sankara Sanskrit University K S Radhakrishnan from Ernakulam and actor-turned-politician G Krishnakumar from Kollam. T N Sarasu, a former educator, will contest from Alathur in Palakkad.

The highlight of the BJP’s fifth list was the electoral debut of actor Kangana Ranaut from Mandi in her homestate Himachal Pradesh. The list, which named 111 candidates in 17 states, also featured new joinees like industrialist Naveen Jindal and Mr Gangopadhyay.

Mr Gangopadhyay, who joined the BJP recently after taking voluntary retirement, is the first former judge to join electoral politics. He has been fielded from Tamluk in Bengal and will face Trinamool’s Debangshu Bhattacharya, a youth leader who had penned the party’s “Khela Hobe” song.

Varun Gandhi, a sitting MP from Pilibhit, has been dropped and his seat has gone to Jitin Prasada, who switched to the BJP from the Congress in run-up to the election. His mother Maneka Gandhi has been fielded from her current seat, Sultanpur.

Actor Arun Govil, who played Ram in popular TV series Ramayan, will contest from Meerut. Union ministers Ashwini Kumar Choubey and General VK Singh too were part of the list.

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