'Have come to Kerala to send a message that India is one'
New Delhi: Amid the opposition of the Left parties, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is fighting the Lok Sabha elections from his traditional bastion Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, on Thursday filed nomination from Wayanad -- a Congress stronghold in South India.
Gandhi, accompanied by his sister Priyanka Gandhi and senior Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Mukul Wasnik, submitted the papers before district collector AR Ajayakumar at Wayanad district headquarters.
Justifying his move to contest from a southern state, the Congress president said that he was fighting the polls from down south to send a message that India was one.
"I have come to Kerala to send a message that India is one. South, north, east, west, centre... all are one... There is an assault taking place across the country by the RSS and BJP. I just want to send a message and I will stand from south India and north India. My aim was to give a message," Gandhi said.
"There is a feeling in south India that the way the Narendra Modi government is functioning, their (south) culture, language, history all are being attacked. So I wanted to give a message that I will fight from north and south," the Congress chief said in response to Union Minister Smriti Irani's allegations that his decision to fight from Wayanad was an insult to the people of Amethi.
In reply to the ongoing tussle between CPM and Congress over him contesting from Wayanad, Rahul said, "I wouldn't say any word against CPI(M). If they are saying, let them say."
"The CPI(M) and Congress have been locked in a fight in Kerala. This will go on. I understand that the CPI(M) has to fight me. But I am not going to say a word against them," he said.
Priyanka Gandhi took to Tweeter to appeal to the people of Wayanad to take care of her brother and assured that he would not let him down. "My brother, my truest friend, and by far the most courageous man I know. Take care of him Wayanad, he won't let you down," she tweeted after the roadshow. Party workers shouted that they would ensure a thumping victory for Gandhi. "We all are excited. All sections of people gathered here to greet our prime ministerial candidate. We will ensure a thumping victory for Rahul ji from the soil of Pazhassi Raja," said Ashraf, a UDF worker, who came from Vandoor assembly constituency.
Hundreds of workers of the Congress-led UDF assembled outside the district collectorate in Wayanad, a scenic hill area in the Western Ghats of Kerala, as Gandhi filed the nomination.
Braving the scorching heat, thousands of party workers, including men, women and youth gathered in Kalpetta town and its suburbs to see the Congress' prime ministerial candidate, who landed here to file his nomination from the constituency which has the presence of various ethnic tribal groups.
After completing the nomination procedures at the collectorate, Rahul Gandhi along with Priyanka Gandhi and senior leaders of the Congress-led UDF in Kerala undertook a roadshow to greet the voters of this constituency.
Attacking Modi on the issue of corruption, the Congress leader said, "The country had faith in the prime minister when he said he would be the Chowkidar. But the Chowkidar himself has given Anil Ambani Rs 30,000 crore of Air Force money."
"He (Modi) has stolen money and given it to Anil Ambani who has no experience. Anil Ambani is in Rs 45,000 crore debt," Gandhi alleged, once again attacking the NDA government over the Rafale deal.