Congress chief Rahul Gandhi
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will file his nomination from Wayanad constituency in Kerala today.Twitter/@INCIndia

With an eye on south India, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will be contesting from Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala in addition to his traditional stronghold of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress leader will file his nomination around 11.30 am on Thursday, April 4. The move, calculated to re-energise the grand old party in the south that sends 130 seats to the lower House, has undoubtedly cheered the Congress workers in Kerala.

Senior Congress leader and AICC general secretary in charge of Kerala, Mukul Wasnik said Gandhi's sister and AICC in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra would accompany him to Wayanad. The Congress leader has arrived in Kozhikode on Wednesday night to a tumultuous welcome by hundreds of party workers. Priyanka, who came separately, reached Kozhikode shortly before her brother arrived.

A large number of young party workers holding Congress and ally Indian Union Muslim League flags were seen lustily cheering as Rahul Gandhi came out of the airport. He waved at them.

The Congress chief was received by Chennithala, Oommen Chandy, Mullappally Ramachandran, IUML leaders PK Kunhalikutty and ET Muhammed basheer and others. Later, he and Priyanka left for the guest house through a secure route from the airport.

"Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka have already left for the guest house. Rahul might meet the senior leaders tonight. UDF workers are excited over his candidature," Chennithala said.

Chandy said Rahul's candidature in Wayanad will lead the UDF to a complete victory in the April 23 polls. Wayanad lies in northern Kerala and shares border with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Rahul, who earlier in the day addressed a series of election meetings in Assam and Nagaland, reached Karipur Airport here around 9.30 pm. After an overnight stay at the guest house here, the two leaders will leave for Wayanad on Thursday morning.

"The Congress chief will embark on a massive roadshow at around 9.30 am before filing the nomination papers," Chennithala said.

Wasnik claimed the announcement of Gandhi's candidature in Wayanad has enthused the people of the constituency and made a major difference in other states, including Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

"It will get reflected in the voting," he said.

Earlier, sources said the Congress chief would board a helicopter to Wayanad, about 90 km from here, to file his nomination. Tight security is in place in Kozhikode and Wayanad districts in view of the high-profile visits.

Indian Congress party president Rahul Gandhi (L) with his sister Priyanka Gandhi pay tribute to their late father
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra would accompany Congress party president Rahul Gandhi to Wayanad.MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images

The Congress had earlier announced that Gandhi would contest from Wayanad constituency, besides his traditional stronghold of Amethi. Gandhi has claimed that the people in South India "feel hostility" from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said he decided to contest from Wayanad to send out the message that he stands with them.

The decision drew sharp criticism from the Left, who accused the Congress of losing the plot before the Lok Sabha 2019 elections and swore that it would work towards defeating the Congress leader.

(Inputs from agencies)