Being seen as a cakewalk for Congress president

Lucknow: Victory looks a mere formality for AICC President Sonia Gandhi, who will file her nomination for the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha by-poll on Monday in the presence of son Rahul, MP, daughter Priyanka and son-in-law Robert Vadra.

Ms. Gandhi will reach Rae Bareli Collectorate by road from the State Capital around noon. She is likely to file papers around 12-30 p.m., Congress sources said.

With BJP still undecided and Samajwadi Party (SP) and Apna Dal fielding unknown faces against her, political observers foresee the by-poll as a cakewalk for Ms Gandhi.

The by-election -- to be held on May 8 -- was necessitated after Ms. Gandhi resigned from the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat in March following the office of profit controversy. She had also stepped down as the chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC).

On March 28, Ms Gandhi announced during a public meeting in Rae Bareli her decision to seek re-election "to silence her critics for whom she was enemy number one".

By fielding greenhorns as candidates against her, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Apna Dal -- which has agreed to field expelled BJP leader Uma Bharti's candidate on its ticket -- have assured that Ms Gandhi wins without much opposition.

BSP president and former U.P. chief minister Mayawati too has announced against fielding anyone opposite Ms Gandhi. She said Ms Gandhi's presence in Lok Sabha was necessary to check the BJP.

Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh has decided not to field any candidate. He has also remained mum on the issue of supporting the SP candidate against the Congress president.

All eyes are now set on the BJP which is yet to announce its candidate. It is to be seen whether the BJP too follows in the footsteps of the SP or fields a comparatively stronger candidate against Ms Gandhi. -- UNI