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Priyanka Gandhi to contest seat vacated by Rahul in her electoral debut

During the recent general election, Priyanka Gandhi played a pivotal role in countering barbs from Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders

 

 

Rahul Gandhi, senior leader of India’s main opposition Congress Party, and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra gesture on the day of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc’s meeting in New Delhi, India, June 5, 2024. (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

By: Shajil Kumar

Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi, who won from two constituencies in the recent general election, will surrender one of them to comply with the election laws. His younger sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will be the party’s candidate for that seat.

Rahul Gandhi won from Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh state and Wayanad in Kerala, and he has decided to surrender Wayanad, where he won two consecutive terms. For Priyanka Gandhi, this will mark her electoral debut.

Congress party president Mallikarjun Kharge made the announcement after a party meeting.

“The party has decided that Rahul Gandhi should keep the Rae Bareli seat because it has been close to him and his family for generations,” he said.

Kharge also said that Rahul has received love from the people of Wayanad and they want him to retain the seat. “But the rules don’t allow this. So we have decided that Priyanka will contest from Wayanad,” he said.

According to the Representation of the People Act, a candidate is permitted to contest an election from up to two constituencies, but he or she can hold only one seat at a time if elected from both.

During the general election, the opposition INDIA bloc won 233 seats out of 543 in the Lok Sabha, with Congress emerging as its largest constituent with 99 seats.

The election campaign saw a spirited fightback by the Congress with 52-year-old Priyanka playing a pivotal role in countering constant barbs from Modi and other BJP leaders.

Countering prime minister Modi over his “gold and mangalsutra” remarks, an emotionally charged Priyanka reminded the voters that her mother Sonia Gandhi sacrificed her mangalsutra for the country.

She took part in 108 public meetings and roadshows. She campaigned in 16 states and one union territory.

Discussing her childhood, the pain of her father Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and her mother’s grief, she steered the Congress campaign, adroitly walking the tightrope between striking a familial chord and discussing national-level issues, and proved to be a strategist, orator and mass mobiliser.

Political commentator and former Congress leader Sanjay Jha hailed Priyanka Gandhi as an “outstanding campaigner”. “Her sharp and prompt rebuttals to Modi’s jibes have worked wonders during the campaign. Her presence has been talismanic,” he said.

During the recent election, Priyanka’s name did the rounds as the Congress candidate for Amethi, Rae Bareli as well as Varanasi parliamentary seats, but she decided not to take the electoral plunge at that time.

After guiding the party to a stronger position in Parliament when compared with the results of 2014 and 2019, she has now decided to contest from Wayanad.

After her candidature was announced, Priyanka said, “I’m not nervous at all … I am very happy to be able to represent Wayanad. All I’ll say is that I won’t let them feel his (Rahul’s) absence… I have a good relation with Rae Bareli as I have worked there for 20 years and that relation will never break.”

“Priyanka will contest from Wayanad, but I will also go there frequently and we will fulfil all the promises we made to the people there. I have an old connection with Rae Bareli and I am happy to represent them, but it wasn’t an easy decision. It was a tough one. The people of Wayanad stood with me and supported me. They gave me energy to fight in a very difficult time. I will be available for the people of Wayanad,” Rahul Gandhi said.

If Priyanka wins the Lok Sabha bypolls, it would be for the first time that three members of the Gandhi family will be in Parliament.

Her mother Sonia Gandhi is a Rajya Sabha member from Rajasthan.

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