Gandhis and the battle for Rae Bareli, Amethi - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Gandhis and the battle for Rae Bareli, Amethi

May 05, 2024 11:15 PM IST

In the realm of politics, the voter’s choice reigns supreme. If the Congress secures power through its alliance, all these conjectures will cease.

“I had said earlier that shehzada (prince) will lose Wayanad and start looking for a second seat. His supporters were saying he would come to Amethi. But shehzada was so scared of Amethi that he fled to Rae Bareli. These people tell everyone Daro mat. I tell them Arrey daro mat, bhago mat (don’t be scared, don’t flee),” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at an election rally, tongue in cheek, and added, “I had also said that their top leader will run away; she ran away, she left Uttar Pradesh and contested the elections from Rajasthan.”

**EDS: IMAGE VIA @KLSharmaAmethi POSTED ON MAY 3, 2024** Amethi: Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra upon their arrival before the nomination filing of Rahul ahead of the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections, in Amethi district. (PTI Photo) (PTI05_03_2024_000100B)(PTI) PREMIUM
**EDS: IMAGE VIA @KLSharmaAmethi POSTED ON MAY 3, 2024** Amethi: Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra upon their arrival before the nomination filing of Rahul ahead of the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections, in Amethi district. (PTI Photo) (PTI05_03_2024_000100B)(PTI)

The Congress party itself gave Modi the opportunity to make fun of Sonia and Rahul. Since late Thursday, there have been hints that Rahul could be contesting in Rae Bareli and Kishori Lal Sharma, also known as KL Sharma, in Amethi. Sharma is the secretary of the All India Congress Committee and has spent the last 30 years “working” in the Rae Bareli and Amethi constituencies on behalf of the family.

For those who are unaware of his background, he is originally from Punjab, but as a permanent representative of the family, he maintains strong links with the workers of both parliamentary constituencies. According to the Congress, Sharma is the most suitable candidate for Amethi and will defeat Smriti Irani.

Is this possible?

Nothing is impossible in a democracy. If Raj Narain could defeat Indira Gandhi in 1977 and Irani could clean bowl Rahul in 2019, it is best not to say anything till the results are announced. However, there is a significant contrast in the “face value” of Irani and Sharma – Sharma works in the background, whereas the latter is aggressive in her politics. This fight does not appear to be even at the moment.

But why did the Gandhis abandon Amethi?

Perhaps Congress leaders thought that if Priyanka and Rahul fought elections from neighbouring constituencies, allegations of nepotism would only grow against them. If they win, the siblings will feel at ease in the House, but the Opposition and critics would have the opportunity to draw comparisons. The Gandhi family is alert to this. Their roles are clearly delineated. This is why symptoms of family disharmony appeared only once—when Maneka Gandhi left 1, Safdarjung Road following the death of Sanjay Gandhi. Since then, Maneka and son Varun have taken distinctly different political routes from Rahul and the family.

Congress leaders are aware that leaving Amethi may send the wrong message, which is why they claim that the Gandhi family’s relationship with Rae Bareli is decades older than what it was with Amethi. Feroze Gandhi won from Rae Bareli in 1952, then Indira, followed by Sonia, and after she assumed a less active role in day-to-day politics, Rahul stepped in to carry on the legacy. Prominent Congress leaders and his entire family gathered to support Rahul’s nomination. Workers from the Samajwadi Party joined him in a show of solidarity.

There’s also the question of how much the Congress will benefit if Rahul wins. The party is contesting on 17 seats in Uttar Pradesh (UP), but do you remember the names of even five of its candidates? The Congress is already in a dire situation in the state. Priyanka was the party’s general secretary in charge of the state during the last assembly elections. The Congress fought a total of 398 seats, but how many did it win? Only two.

Rahul may encounter another problem in the coming days. He promised in Wayanad that the people there were his family and that he would not ditch them. But today in Rae Bareli, he is battling for legacy. If he wins both the seats, which one will he abandon? If he leaves Kerala, he will be disregarding those who helped him win in adversity. The same will be the case if he leaves Rae Bareli.

Another fact worth noting here is that in Kannauj, Akhilesh Yadav fielded his nephew Tej Pratap Yadav. I’m not sure why, but his thinking changed within two days, and he entered the electoral fray. Did he realise that the Gandhis were about to bid goodbye to Amethi this time? Even if both Rahul and Akhilesh are declared winners, Akhilesh Yadav will continue to be UP’s most visible representative in the Lok Sabha. This will boost his political profile. We must remember that Mayawati had once made excellent use of her Lok Sabha membership.

A cautionary note: In the realm of politics, the voter’s choice reigns supreme. If the Congress secures power through its alliance, all these conjectures will cease. History often overlooks the flaws of the victors. Do you anticipate a similar outcome this time?

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan. The views expressed are personal

Get World Cup ready with Crick-it! From live scores to match stats, catch all the action here. Explore now!

See more

Get Current Updates on India News, Elections 2024, Lok sabha election 2024 voting live , Karnataka election 2024 live in Bengaluru , Election 2024 Date along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.

Continue reading with HT Premium Subscription

Daily E Paper I Premium Articles I Brunch E Magazine I Daily Infographics
freemium
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, June 20, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On