Thiruvananthapuram, April 23 (IANS) Kerala’s Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, from where Congress President Rahul Gandhi is trying his electoral luck for the first time, saw a turnout of over 79 per cent on Tuesday.
The turnout could increase further when the voting figures were finalised. In 2014, the polling percentage was 73.23 per cent.
The constituency became high-profile after Gandhi decided to enter the poll fray from here in addition to the traditional family seat of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress chief faced Bharath Dharma Jana Sena Chairperson Tushar Vellapally, who is the NDA candidate and Communist Party of India leader P.P. Suneer, of the ruling Left Democratic Front, which was irate at Gandhi’s candidature and had vowed to defeat him.
Suneer, who was the principal opponent of Gandhi, told IANS after polling ended on Tuesday that he was confident that he will shake hands with Gandhi in the Parliament.
“I am going to win and Gandhi will also win from Amethi and for the first time, I will be shaking hands with him in the Parliament, as I am yet to meet him personally.
“The highlight of my campaign was that unlike my two other opponents, I personally went calling on my electorate. Gandhi never was here on ground zero canvassing votes as he came, travelled in high security and went, while the other candidate (BDJS chief Tushar Vellapally of the NDA) was here very late,” Suneer said.
He, however, admitted that it was a sort of bolt from the blue, when he heard that Gandhi would be his opponent.
“Honestly, I never ever expected it,” he said.
Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said ever since Gandhi announced that he would contest from Wayanad, there has been a “huge Rahul wave” all across Kerala.
“On account of this it will be a clean sweep for us in Kerala winning all the 20 seats,” he claimed.
The National Democratic Alliance candidate’s father Vellapally Natesan, the General Secretary of SNDP Yogam (the socio-cultural body of the Hindu Ezhava community), said that he was also confident that Gandhi will win hands down in Wayanad due to the huge minority consolidation.
“Moreover it’s become a prestige electoral battle for the Congress-led UDF and they will ensure he gets the highest margin of victory.
“However, the UDF will be having a tough time the day Gandhi announces that he will retain Amethi and not Wayanad. Then it’s going to be a tough time for the Congress party here in Kerala,” Natesan said.
There are a total of 13,57,819 voters in Wayanad, that incidentally that also has the highest number of candidates (20) in the state’s 20 Lok Sabha seats. There are 6,73,011 men, 6,84,807 women and one transgender voters in the constituency.