Rahul Gandhi is going to contest from Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala, in addition to Amethi. There’s more to the decision than meets the eye. Much has been written about the reasons behind this. Decades of backwardness in the Nehru-Gandhi bastion of Amethi. A spirited campaign by Smriti Irani, who remained committed to the area for the last five years, despite losing in 2014. The BJP picking up four of the five Assembly seats in Amethi in the Vidhan Sabha polls. All these factors came together to make Amethi a very slippery seat for Rahul Gandhi this time.
But why Wayanad?
Even a lot of journalists and intellectuals considered sympathetic to Congress have expressed surprise at the choice. Why would Rahul Gandhi go up against a Left candidate in Kerala, against a party that is basically an ally? Was Wayanad really the only possible “safe seat” for Rahul Gandhi? Even if Rahul wanted to move south and was looking for an easy victory, could he not have picked a seat, say in the Old Mysuru Region of Karnataka, the part of the state where BJP is extremely weak? Because BJP is a big, even the dominant force in Karnataka overall, it would not have looked so embarrassing for him.
Because there appears to be a second, deeper layer to the Congress Party’s decision.
With Wayanad, a Lok Sabha seat where Muslims make up 56% of the population, the Congress Party is preparing for a future India where Hindus are a minority.
First, I must put in a small remark debunking certain misinformation being circulated about the demographics of Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency.
Is ‘secular’ ecosystem spreading wrong claim that Hindus are 49% in Wayanad LS seat. (see first 3 pics)?
Wayanad LS seat has 56% M population. (see real data in last pic)
They are mixing up demography of Wayanad DISTRICT with Wayanad SEAT.
Is this deliberate? Ur guess? pic.twitter.com/b0QQ5BlaD1
— Abhishek (@AbhishBanerj) April 1, 2019
As the Economic Times explains here, Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency consists of 3 Assembly seats from Wayanad District, 3 Assembly Seats from Malappuram District and 1 Assembly Seat from Kozhikode.
As such, Muslims account for 56% of the population of Wayanad seat.
Why is the misinformation that Hindus account for 49% of Wayanad seat, using the demographics of Wayanad District instead of Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, being spread all around social and mainstream media? Why are ‘reputed’ media outlets and ‘journalists’ carrying this incorrect information? Is it a mistake or is it deliberate? I leave it to you to guess.
Let’s get back to the main point. By contesting from Wayanad, Congress is preparing ground for electoral politics in a future India where Hindus will be the minority.
Political parties are more like corporations than we realize. The world’s largest corporations are always on the lookout for the next big thing: it could be renewable energy or artificial intelligence. Without constant innovation and adaptation, any corporation would collapse. For example, the Kodak Corporation led almost every advance in photography for almost one hundred years since it was founded in 1888. But then Kodak failed to anticipate the digital camera and smartphone revolution in photography. They filed for bankruptcy in 2012.
The Congress is India’s most successful political party. It has ruled 58 out of 72 years since independence, a strike rate that could arguably make it the most successful party in a democratic system anywhere in the world.
But then they were pushed to their lowest ebb in 2014, down to 44 seats. To recover, the Congress needed a completely new idea, something that would keep the party going into the future.
In this respect, does Wayanad reflect the Congress’ astute observation that Hindus will be a minority in a future India? The Congress enjoys a lot of goodwill from the Indian Muslim community. By shifting to a Muslim majority constituency, is the Congress deciding to make the Muslim votebank the bedrock of its future?
Surely the Congress would have known that they would have to endure taunts from the BJP about “running away” to a constituency where Hindus are a minority. They must have known that the move would cause depression among their cadres in the Hindi heartland. But is the Congress taking a long term view of India’s electoral future?
Sure, the move may not make sense right now, but how about a time 15 years from now when Hindus have become minorities in a host of other states: Kerala, Assam, Bengal, possibly even Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. In large parts of Western Uttar Pradesh, Hindu population is barely above the 50% mark. In large parts of Bihar’s Seemanchal, Hindus are already a minority. What happens 15 years from now?
Remember that Hindus do not need to be an minority in absolute terms all across India for this long term Muslim votebank strategy to work. The regions that I mentioned above account for nearly 200 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress managed to form a government in 2004 with less than 150.
For Congress, Rahul’s move to Wayanad could be bit like investing in the electric car. Sure, electric cars might be more inconvenient than traditional petrol or diesel cars today, but we know that clean, electric vehicles will keep getting better and better. They are the future. Is Congress looking for ‘first mover advantage’ in preparing for an India where Hindu votes no longer matter?