Lok Sabha polls: Rae Bareli-Amethi suspense escalates as nomination deadline nears - Hindustan Times
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Lok Sabha polls: Rae Bareli-Amethi suspense escalates as nomination deadline nears

By, Lucknow
Apr 30, 2024 09:34 AM IST

As Rae Bareli and Amethi go to vote in the fifth phase on May 20, barely four days are left for the filing of nomination papers to end.

The Congress move of keeping the suspense going on the possible candidates for Rae Bareli and Amethi Lok Sabha seats is turning out to be a political riddle that most political leaders or commentators may need to solve. And when the suspense finally ends, this may spring a surprise.

Besides the possibility of Priyanka Gandhi being fielded from Rae Bareli and Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, there are also indications that only one of the two leaders will contest from UP, say state Congress leaders. (FILE PHOTO)
Besides the possibility of Priyanka Gandhi being fielded from Rae Bareli and Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, there are also indications that only one of the two leaders will contest from UP, say state Congress leaders. (FILE PHOTO)

“You will get some sort of surprise in Rae Bareli and Amethi,” said Congress president Mallikarjuna Kharge to a news channel recently when asked whether Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will contest the 2024 polls from Rae Bareli or Amethi Lok Sabha seats considered to be Congress bastions till the 2019 polls when Rahul Gandhi lost to Union minister Smriti Irani.

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As Rae Bareli and Amethi go to vote in the fifth phase on May 20, barely four days are left for filing of nomination papers to end (May 3).

Sonia Gandhi, who was the only Congress MP to win the Lok Sabha poll from U.P. in 2019, has now taken Rajya Sabha route from Rajasthan.

In her letter to the people of Rae Bareli dated February 14, 2024, Sonia Gandhi observed, “I will not contest the next Lok Sabha election for my advancing age and health reasons... I am sure you will take care of me and my family in difficult times as you have been doing up to now.”

Read: Will BJP’s attempt to shift Maharashtra battle to Narendra Modi Vs Rahul Gandhi help party?

Sonia’s appeal, urging the people to take care of her family has been interpreted as an indication that a member of Gandhi family will contest the poll.

“Yes, Sonia Gandhi in her letter has given enough indication that a member of Gandhi family will contest the poll. We are sure a member of the Gandhi family, be it Priyanka Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi will contest the poll from the seat,” Rae Bareli District Congress Committee president Pankaj Tiwari said.

Senior Congress leader from Amethi and former MLC Deepak Singh also said he was sure that either Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi will contest the poll from Amethi.

Various probabilities with permutations and combinations are doing the rounds though the party leaders say the suspense will be clear in a day or two. The BJP, which has fielded Union minister Smriti Irani from Amethi again, appears closely watching the Congress move and may decide its candidate after knowing about the Congress choice in Rae Bareli.

Read: BJP, Congress seek more time to reply to EC notices over PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi speeches

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav added a new dimension to the issue in Kannauj last week when he hinted that Rahul Gandhi may contest the poll from Uttar Pradesh.

When asked whether his friend (Rahul Gandhi) will come to Amethi to contest the poll, Akhilesh Yadav, according to ANI, said, “Sab aayenge ab toh (Everyone will come now), mehfil toh ab U.P. mein hi sajegi (the gathering will be in Uttar Pradesh only).”

At the Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance’s first press conference in Ghaziabad on April 17, Rahul Gandhi said the Congress Central Election Committee will take a call about the party’s candidates for Rae Bareli and Amethi and he will follow the party’s decision on the issue.

“Yes, all sets of possibilities are open. Besides the possibility of Priyanka Gandhi being fielded from Rae Bareli and Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, there are also indications that only one of the two leaders (Priyanka and Rahul) will contest the poll from U.P. Priyanka Gandhi may be a party candidate either from Rae Bareli or from Amethi. Rahul Gandhi may also be fielded either from Amethi or Rae Bareli. Another possibility being discussed is that the two leaders may opt out of entering the poll fray from Uttar Pradesh,” said many senior U.P. Congress leaders on condition of anonymity.

“Rae Bareli and Amethi are prestigious seats for the Congress. This is why the party is not able to make up its mind about the candidates for the two seats. There is a possibility that Priyanka Gandhi may be fielded from Rae Bareli and Rahul Gandhi may contest the poll from Amethi. The BJP will decide its candidate for Rae Bareli after the Congress makes its decision public,” said Professor SK Dwivedi, former head of department, political science, Lucknow University.

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