Suspense continues over Rahul, Priyanka’s candidatures from Raebareli and Amethi; final decision today

With just a day left for the filing of nominations for Phase 5 of the Lok Sabha elections, the suspense continued over the Congress’ candidates for the Amethi and Raebareli constituencies of Uttar Pradesh, once considered a stronghold of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

According to sources, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is already on the Congress ticket from Wayanad in Kerala, which polled in the second phase on April 26, is likely to put himself in the fray from Amethi as well.
Rahul’s candidature from the seat he lost to Union Minister and BJP leader Smriti Irani in 2019 will be formally announced on Thursday, and he will file his nomination from the constituency on Friday, sources said.
The sources added that along with Congress leaders, its partners in the INDIA bloc also suggested that Rahul contest Amethi.
“They also proposed Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as the candidate from Raebareli,” a source said.
The Samajwadi Party (SP), which earlier announced a seat-sharing pact with the grand old party in Uttar Pradesh, told Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge that after its supremo Akhilesh Yadav’s decision to contest Kannauj, Rahul’s entry into the fray along with his sister Priyanka may bring unexpected electoral dividend to the Opposition bloc, sources said.
“Kharge told Sonia Gandhi that the party and he, himself, was in favour of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka contesting the elections (from Amethi and Raebareli),” the source added.
However, adding to the intrigue around the Congress’ choice of candidates for these two constituencies, sources claimed that even as Rahul and Priyanka appear reluctant to contest Amethi and Raebareli, Kharge insisted that at least one of them enter the fray.
At the party’s committee meeting recently, the Congress’ UP unit formally moved a proposal that members of the Gandhi family should contest the Amethi and Raibareli seats and a final decision in the matter was left to Kharge.
The Congress has not yet put out any official statement on its choice of nominees from Amethi and Raebareli, which were considered the party’s strongholds until the 2019 elections.
Earlier, Congress leader KL Sharma told ANI, “Today, we had a meeting in Amethi and Raebareli as the party is still undecided on its choice of candidates from these two constituencies. People expect someone from the Gandhi family to contest (these seats) and I, too, feel the same. Since the last date for filing nominations is May 3 (Friday), we had to rush through the preparations. Hence, two meetings were held today (in Amethi and Raebareli).”
Addressing reporters on Wednesday, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, “The Central Election Committee (CEC) has empowered our party president Mallikarjun Kharge to take a final call on our candidates for Amethi and Raebareli. I expect a formal announcement to be made in the next 24 to 30 hours.”
The Congress, which is contesting 17 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh as part of the seat-sharing deal with the Samajwadi Party (SP), has announced candidates for all the seats barring Amethi and Raebareli.
Amethi is scheduled to poll in the fifth phase on May 20, with the last date for filing nominations scheduled on May 3.
Rahul’s defeat in Amethi, once considered a Congress ‘pocket borough’, at the hands of Irani in the 2019 polls was seen as a significant blow to the party’s national prestige.
Rahul represented Amethi in the Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2019. His father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, too, was an elected member of Amethi in the Lower House from 1981 till his death in 1991. Sonia Gandhi contested elections from here in 1999 before passing the baton on to Rahul in 2004.
Rahul currently represents Wayanad in the Lok Sabha while Irani is bidding for a fresh term from Amethi.-ANI

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