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Rahul Gandhi files nomination for India election from Kerala seat

Gandhi, the leading figure in an opposition alliance fighting an uphill battle against Modi, will contest from Wayanad in the southern state.

Thousands of supporters thronged India’s most prominent opposition leader Rahul Gandhi during a campaign procession before his formal nomination for the parliamentary election starting this month.

Gandhi, 53, is the son, grandson, and great-grandson of former prime ministers, but his Congress party has already suffered two landslide defeats against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

He is the leading figure in an opposition alliance fighting an uphill battle in this year’s polls against Modi, who remains broadly popular after a decade in power and is likely to retain office comfortably.

But Gandhi was given a rousing reception in Wayanad, a picturesque town in the southern state of Kerala, with a huge crowd gathering to cheer his arrival on Wednesday.

“I don’t think of you as my electorate but as my family,” he told the gathering from atop a truck, flanked by his younger sister Priyanka and cadres from his party.

Gandhi formally filed his nomination, vying to retain the Wayanad seat, with the local election office after the rally.

He was first elected from the constituency in 2019 but was briefly disqualified from parliament last year after his conviction for criminal libel in a case filed by a member of the BJP.

He was reinstated pending a Supreme Court appeal, but his decision to recontest the seat has caused some friction within the opposition Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), of which Congress is a part.

His main challenger is firebrand left-wing candidate Annie Raja of the Communist Party of India, a fellow member of the