Priyanka Gandhi to Contest from Wayanad, BJP Cries Dynasticism


DELHI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will retain the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh and vacate his Wayanad seat in Kerala from where his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will make her electoral debut.

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Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka in Kheer Bhawani temple in Ganderbal after the Bharat Jodo Yatra was formally over on January 31, 2023.

Ending speculation on the issue, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge announced the decision on the two seats on Monday after the party’s top brass held discussions at his residence here. Besides, Kharge and Rahul Gandhi, Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi and party general secretaries K C Venugopal and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were present at the meeting.

If elected, this will be the first time Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will enter Parliament as an MP. This will also be the first time that the three Gandhi family members – Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Priyanka – will be in Parliament together.

Since her entry into active politics in 2019, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was projected as a possible challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi and also as a successor to Congress veteran Sonia Gandhi in the family pocket borough of Rae Bareli.

However, the Congress has decided to field her from Wayanad, the parliamentary seat that her elder brother Rahul won for two consecutive terms. She has earlier been the in-charge of Uttar Pradesh and emerged as the party strategist and star campaigner, helping it in making impressive gains in some states recently.

CPI leader Annie Raja, who lost to Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad, welcomed his decision to retain the Rae Bareli seat.

Asked if there is a chance of Priyanka contesting as a common candidate of the INDIA bloc, Raja said it was the collective decision taken within the alliance that the LDF and the UDF would contest independently in Kerala and any change can be made only by the grouping and its respective parties.

The BJP has, however, attacked the Congress for the decision saying it is a clear case of dynastic politics being practised. Ruling party spokesperson Shezaad Poonawala said, “It proves that the Congress is not a party but a family company”.

Rahul Gandhi had to vacate one of the seats won by him within 14 days of the Lok Sabha results, which came out on June 4.

“Rahul Gandhi won from two Lok Saba seats but as per the law, he has to vacate one seat. Rahul Gandhi will retain Rae Bareli and we have decided that Priyanka ji will fight from Wayanad,” Kharge told reporters after the meeting.

Priyanka Gandhi

“We thank her for keeping our word and having agreed to contest from Wayanad,” he said while lauding Priyanka Gandhi’s efforts in helping the party win a number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, including in Rae Bareli.

Priyanka was the party’s star campaigner during Lok Sabha polls and had not contested herself.

Asked whether Rahul has decided to take the Leader of Opposition position in Lok Sabha, after the Congress Working Committee urged him to do so in a unanimous resolution, Kharge said that a decision will be taken soon.

“But, ‘dhamki to dee hai as president of the party’ (he has given a threat as party president),” Rahul Gandhi said when asked if he has agreed to the CWC decision to take up the LoP position.

Rahul Gandhi, while thanking the people of Wayanad for electing him again, said he will keep visiting the constituency and fulfil all the promises he has made to the people there.

He said it was a difficult decision for him as he has an emotional relationship with both Rae Bareli and Wayanad and added that both the seats “will get two MPs”.

“Dono ko do saansad mil rahe hain (both will get two MPs each),” he said.

“I have an old relation with Rae Bareli and I am very happy that I will be representing it. This was not an easy decision, because affection is with both (Wayanad and Rae Bareli),” he said.

While Sonia Gandhi has now become a member of the Rajya Sabha, representing Rajasthan state, Rahul Gandhi will represent Rae Bareli and Priyanka Gandhi, if elected in the bye-elections, will represent Wayanad constituency.

Sonia Gandhi held the Rae Bareli constituency for the last over two decades and Rahul Gandhi had earlier held the Amethi constituency, which he lost to Smriti Irani in 2019 and shifted to Wayanad.

“The last five years as an MP of Wayanad have been a fantastic and enjoyable experience. The people of Wayanad gave me support and gave me energy to fight at a very difficult time. I will never forget that…,” he said.

“All the people of Wayanad gave me a lot of love and I thank them from my heart. I will visit Wayanad and will fulfil our promises made,” he said.

Priyanka Gandhi said she will not let the people of Wayanad feel Rahul’s absence.

“I am very happy to be able to represent Wayanad. All I’ll say is that I won’t let them feel his absence. As he said he will come many times with me. But I will work as hard and I will try my best to make everybody happy and be a good representative.

“I have a good relation with Rae Bareli as I have worked there for 20 years and that relation will never break,” Priyanka Gandhi said in her brief remarks.

Asked if she was nervous as she would be making her electoral debut in Wayanad, she said, “Not at all, I’m not nervous at all.”

Rahul secured a massive 64.7 per cent vote share in Wayanad, defeating his nearest rival Annie Raja of CPI by a margin of 3.64 lakh votes. The BJP candidate K Surendran finished third with 1.3 lakh votes.

“I want everyone to know that Priyanka is going to fight from Wayanad and the commitments that I have made, we will stand by them.

“She is going to be a very good representative for the people of Wayanad.

“You are now going to have two members of Parliament and I love the people and I will keep visiting,” he told the people of Wayanad on announcing his decision to quit the seat.

Rahul said he is going to be available to the people of Wayanad.

“I am confident that she is going to win the election. People of Wayanad can think about it like this – they are now going to have two members of Parliament – one is my sister and one is me. My doors are always open for you throughout the rest of my life. I love every single person in Wayanad,” he also said.

BJP Reaction

The BJP on Monday slammed the Congress accusing it of indulging in “dynastic politics” after party leader Rahul Gandhi decided to retain the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat and vacate Wayanad in Kerala for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to contest the by-elections from the seat.

“With Rahul Gandhi deciding to vacate the Wayanad seat and his sister to contest from there, it has become clear today that the Congress is not a political party but a company of the family,” BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonwala charged.

“Mother (Sonia Gandhi) will be in the Rajya Sabha, son (Rahul Gandhi) in the Lok Sabha from one seat (Rae Bareli) and Priyanka will also be in the Lok Sabha from another (Wayanad) seat. This is a symbol of dynasticism,” he added.

The BJP’s reaction came after Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said that Gandhi will keep the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh and vacate the Wayanad seat in Kerala from where his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will contest.

The BJP spokesperson termed Gandhi’s decision to vacate the Wayanad seat as “betrayal” with the people of the constituency and alleged the decision also makes it clear that Gandhi family’s “political legacy” will remain with its son.

“This shows who is first between the son and the daughter,” he charged.

Poonawalla claimed that Gandhi has decided not to leave the Rae Bareli seat as he was aware that if he does so then this seat will go into the BJP’s kitty in the bye-election.

Gandhi won the Rae Bareli seat due to the Samajwadi Party’s support, he claimed.

“Immediately after the elections, the BJP one again became strong in this seat,” he added.

Reacting to the development, BJP leader Ajay Alok took a swipe at Gandhi over him vacating the Wayanad seat and claimed that it will not be easy for Priyanka Gandhi to win from the seat.

“It is really interesting that the runaway bride has decided to flee from Wayanad,” Alok told PTI, when asked for reaction on Gandhi’s decision to vacate the Wayanad seat in Kerala and retain Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh.

“But the election is not going to be easy (for Priyanka Gandhi). We will be contesting hard. Obviously, the Communist party is also going to give it a good try. But, if at all, she wins from Wayanad, it will be interesting in the Lok Sabha because people will question who decided to field Priyanka and what was the intent behind. Was it to create an alternate leadership?” the BJP leader said.

Alok added that people of the country will also see who is “better useless” and they will have a choice for an “alternate leadership within the Congress”.

Surendran, who had contested against Gandhi on the BJP’s ticket from Wayanad, is expected to be fielded by the saffron party against Priyanka Gandhi in the by-poll.


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