Congress panel may meet next week on Amethi and Raebareli seats | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Congress panel may meet next week on Amethi and Raebareli seats

By, New Delhi
Apr 07, 2024 01:05 AM IST

The Congress has so far announced 14 of its 17 candidates in Uttar Pradesh, but the party has remained silent on Amethi and Raebareli

Amid demand for former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to contest from Amethi and Raebareli seats in Uttar Pradesh, the party’s central election committee is expected to meet next week to discuss these two parliamentary seats, according to people aware of the matter.

The nomination for both these seats will start from April 26 and the last date of filing nominations is May 3 (PTI)
The nomination for both these seats will start from April 26 and the last date of filing nominations is May 3 (PTI)

The Congress has so far announced 14 of its 17 candidates in Uttar Pradesh, but the party has remained silent on Amethi and Raebareli. A Congress strategist argued on Saturday that nomination in Amethi will start on April 26 and on the same day, polling would be held in Kerala’s Wayanad, where Gandhi is contesting.

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The nomination for both these seats will start from April 26 and the last date of filing nominations is May 3. Both the seats will go to the polls on May 20.

“What’s the hurry?” the strategist argued, “We have mostly named candidates who need more time to campaign. But that is not the case for Rahul and Priyanka.” Gandhi Vadra had been managing the Raebareli constituency on behalf of her mother and she knows the Raebareli seat better than many Congress leaders, another Congress leader said. Both declined to be named.

“She has also been to the constituency more frequently than Mrs (Sonia) Gandhi, as the latter had pressing engagements in Delhi,” the second leader said.

The party’s election panel is expected to also take up the pending seats in Bihar and has another meeting to discuss Haryana and West Bengal. So far, the Congress has cleared 241 names across 25 states and 5 union territories.

While Gandhi Vadra had remained silent on the possibilities of her contesting elections, Rahul Gandhi has indicated he is open to contest in Amethi. “I am a soldier of the Congress party. Whatever the party asks me to do, I will do,” he said at a media briefing in Maharashtra at the fag end of his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, when asked if he would contest from Amethi.

Rahul Gandhi had won Amethi three times since 2004, but lost to Union minister Smriti Irani in 2019.

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The Congress has also made an elaborate campaign plan following the release of its election manifesto that would include distribution of 80 million copies of the 25 guarantees in at least 10 languages, video messages by former party chief Sonia Gandhi, a series of joint public meetings in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and other states under the banner of opposition INDIA bloc.

The plan will see outreach by nearly all senior leaders across states. While Sonia Gandhi might not be involved on a large-scale campaign, “very soon she will release a video message on the party’s manifesto,” said a senior leader. Sonia Gandhi’s message assumes importance as she had been the chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance for 10 years and was one of the key architects of the Congress’ victory in the 2004 general election.

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The party after coming out with its manifesto ahead of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress has now made 80 million copies of the guarantee card comprising of 25 guarantees printed in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Odia, Hindi, English, Bengali, Punjabi, Assamese and Urdu. The doorstep distribution of these cards have already started.

Rahul Gandhi, who attended two manifesto release programmes in Hyderabad and Jaipur, is set to attend a rally with Tamil Nadu chief minister Mk Stalin on April 12. “There would be a number of joint public meetings likely in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and other states under the INDIA bloc banner,” said a leader.

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In some states such a Maharashtra, the Congress might tweak its strategy to bring in its Maha Vikas Aghadi partners together for the campaign. In Maharashtra, party president Mallikarjun Kharge, who speaks Marathi fluently, will campaign with Rahul Gandhi in a series of rallies.

The party also has put special teams in several parliamentary seats to oversee the distribution of guarantee cards to people, and Congress general secretary KC Venugopal is speaking with parliamentary coordinators through zoom calls to take feedback.

While defence minister Rajnath Singh has said that India will enter Pakistan to eliminate anyone who escapes over the border after trying to carry out terrorist activities in the country, Congress’ communications head Jairam Ramesh dubbed the remarks as an attempt to divert attention from other vital issues.

“The PM and the Raskha Mantri (defence minister) is trying to change the narrative. The main issue is the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra and the 25 guarantees. This “Ghar mein ghus ke maarenge” statement is a deliberate attempt to divert attention from unemployment and price rise,” Ramesh said.

He also claimed that the INDIA bloc will get a clear majority in this parliamentary election.

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