Lok Sabha elections: Congress' silence on Rae Bareli, Amethi sparks buzz | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Lok Sabha elections: Congress' silence on Rae Bareli, Amethi sparks buzz

Apr 25, 2024 09:59 AM IST

The Congress and the Samajwadi Party are contesting the polls together, the former in 17 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state

The Congress’s decision to hold off on announcing candidates in Amethi and Rae Bareli – the constituencies, both in Uttar Pradesh, are closely associated with the Gandhis – coupled with ill-timed comments have resulted in confusion and speculation.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge(File)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge(File)

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In the case of Amethi, where Rahul Gandhi lost to the BJP’s Smriti Irani in 2019 (she has already been announced as the party’s candidate and has been camping in the constituency), the expectation among local Congress workers is that his candidature will be announced again – perhaps over the weekend. Gandhi is contesting from Wayanad, which he represents, and which goes to polls on Friday. It is believed that Gandhi’s candidature from the Kerala constituency boosted the Congress’s prospects in 2019, helping the grouping led by it to win 19 of the state’s 20 Lok Sabha seats; analysts say the party may not want to affect this in any way by announcing Gandhi’s candidature from Amethi.

But the delay has resulted in speculation. On Wednesday, posters suggesting Robert Vadra, Gandhi’s brother-in-law, be given a chance this time came up in Amethi. While Congress leaders have accused the BJP of orchestrating this, it is a fact that Vadra, on April 4, said: “The people expect me to represent Amethi if I decide to contest elections.”

Meanwhile, in Rae Bareli, the expectation of the local Congress is that Gandhi’s sister and Vadra’s wife, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, will contest in the constituency that her mother, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi represented between 2004 and 2024. Sonia Gandhi is now a Rajya Sabha member from Rajasthan.

Also Read: No candidates named: Parties wait for 1st move in Rae Bareli, Kaiserganj

That, in turn, has resulted in speculation that the BJP has not announced its candidate in the constituency because it could, if Gandhi Vadra contests, field her cousin and BJP leader Varun Gandhi against her. Varun Gandhi is the incumbent MP at Pilhibit but the party chose not to field him from there this time.

Varun Gandhi declined comment on the issue. District BJP president Buddhilal Pasi said he is not aware of any move to field Varun Gandhi. “The people of Rae Bareli want a local leader as the BJP candidate from the seat.”

The only constant in all this appears to be Irani, who has been campaigning in her constituency, and on Wednesday, reacted to the Vadra poster by saying “Jija ho ya saala, Amethi ka voter, Modi ka matwala”.

“Amethi ki janta kare pukar, Robert Vadra abki baar” (People of Amethi want Robert Vadra to contest the poll from the seat this time),” read the posters put up at some places close to the Congress office in Amethi town of the constituency. Most of the posters disappeared by the evening. “The BJP appears to be behind putting up these posters in favour of Robert Vadra at some places in the constituency. But the people of Amethi are sure that Rahul Gandhi will contest,” Amethi Congress leader and former MLC Deepak Singh said over phone.

Also Read: Robert Vadra's posters seen outside Congress office in Amethi amid suspense

A BJP leader denied this.

“The Congress is lying. It is for the Congress to decide who they field. The BJP is busy carrying out development in the constituency. Why will the party put up posters?” said Amethi BJP president Ram Prasad Mishra.

The Congress and the Samajwadi Party are contesting the polls together, the former in 17 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, including Amethi and Rae Bareli. The party has declared its candidates for the other 15 Lok Sabha seats.

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