Congress fields Rahul Gandhi from Rae Bareli; Kishori Lal Sharma to contest from Amethi 

Mr. Sharma is a close confidant of the Gandhi family and has been involved in election management

May 03, 2024 07:56 am | Updated 04:29 pm IST

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. File

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. File | Photo Credit: BISWARANJAN ROUT

Ending days of suspense, Congress on May 3 announced the candidatures of Rahul Gandhi and Kishori Lal Sharma in Rae Bareli and Amethi constituencies respectively in Uttar Pradesh, just hours before the deadline to file nominations for the two seats that go to poll on May 20 is to end. 

Also Read: Lok Sabha polls 2024 LIVE updates

Mr. Sharma is a close confidant of the Gandhi family and has been involved in election management.

The selection of Rae Bareli holds significance as it was the only seat won by the Congress from Uttar Pradesh in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, with Sonia Gandhi defeating her rival candidate Dinesh Pratap Singh of the BJP by roughly 1,67,000 votes. Ms. Gandhi polled 5,34,918 votes (55.80%) against the BJP nominee who polled 3,67,740 (38.36%) votes. 

Rahul Gandhi files nomination from Rae Bareli

May 3 is the last day for filing nominations for the two seats that go to the polls in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha election on May 20.

The announcement puts a lid on weeks of speculation that party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra could make her electoral debut. Mr. Sharma has been managing the two constituencies- Amethi and Rae Bareli for the Gandhi family for over 25-years now. 

Congress is contesting 17 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, while its ally Samajwadi Party is contesting in the remaining 63 seats.

BJP has fielded Union Minister Smriti Irani and Uttar Pradesh MoS Dinesh Pratap Singh in Amethi and Rae Baraeli. Both contested from the same constituencies in 2019 too. 

Who is Kishori Lal Sharma?

Mr. Sharma, a Gandhi family loyalist, used to handle the constituency office for Rae Bareilly for Sonia Gandhi.

He also handled the constituency office for Amethi in the early years of Rahul Gandhi’s membership of the Lok Sabha from there.

A Congress bastion

Mr. Gandhi who has represented Amethi thrice- 2004, 2009 and 2014, lost the seat in 2019 to Union Minister and BJP leader Smriti Irani. Ms. Irani won by a margin of 55,000 votes. The only other Gandhi who has lost in Amethi was Sanjay Gandhi in 1977, seen as an aftermath of Indira Gandhi-imposed Emergency. The constituency had elected BJP’s Satish Sharma in 1998, instead of the namesake candidate from Congress.

The party, after detailed deliberations felt that, Rae Bareli, would be a safer bet. Congress has lost Rae Bareli only thrice in the past. In 1977 socialist leader Raj Narain famously defeated Indira Gandhi from here. BJP’s Ashok Singh won this twice in 1996 and 1998 elections. Since 2004, party matriarch Sonia Gandhi has been winning the seat. She opted out of the electoral race this time choosing instead to enter Parliament via Rajya Sabha. 

Mr. Gandhi is also in fray from Wayanad, Kerala. 

An influential section of the party was keen for Ms. Vadra to contest against Ms. Irani from Amethi, but she could not be convinced. 

(With inputs from Sobhana K and Mayank Kumar)

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