New Delhi: In a bid to improve the Congress’ position in south India, party president Rahul Gandhi will contest from Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala besides his traditional stronghold of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.Veteran Congress leader from Kerala and former Defence Minister A K Antony made this announcement at a press conference here Sunday, saying Gandhi had consented to fight from Wayanad following requests from the party’s state unit. The decision is seen as an attempt by the Congress to consolidate its electoral base in south India, especially Kerala which has 20 Lok Sabha seats. Tamil Nadu has 39 Lok Sabha seats and Karnataka has 28. “This is a message to the southern states that they are deeply valued and respected. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has said he will represent Amethi but will also represent southern states as they are an important part of India’s way of life”, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said. He said Gandhi has said Amethi is his ‘karmabhoomi’ and he will never leave it. The announcement evoked sharp reactions from both the Left and the Right of the political spectrum. Reacting to the development, CPI(M) Politbureau member Prakash Karat said that the decision of the Congress to field Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad shows that the party wants to take on the Left in Kerala. BJP chief Amit Shah also took a sharp dig at Gandhi contesting from two seats at a rally in Uttar Pradesh. “Congress’ vote bank politics has worked on playing with the security of the country. It is the result of this that Rahul Gandhi has left Amethi and run away to Kerala because he knows that voters will seek account from him in Amethi this time,” Shah said. Senior Congress leader Antony said Wayanad is situated in Kerala but also surrounded by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. “In a way, it’ll satisfy the requests of three southern states,” he said. There were many requests from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the former defence minister said, adding that one of the major reasons for consideration was that it is a trijunction of the three southern states. “Amethi and Rahul do not have a political relationship. Amethi ke mann mein Rahul baste hain. It is a family relationship and cannot be broken by BJP’s politics,” Surjewala said. Congress had won eight Lok Sabha seats in Kerala in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, besides two by its ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and one by Kerala Congress (Mani) and one by Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP). Wayanad district is in the northeastern part of Kerala and houses various tribal groups of the state. The area was badly affected due to last year’s floods.