Congress president recalls close association of the Gandhi family after he joins Rahul Gandhi in Amethi for Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra

There is no clarity if any member of the Gandhi family will contest from Amethi and Rae Bareli; Jairam Ramesh says the party’s top poll panel will decide

Updated - February 20, 2024 07:25 am IST

Published - February 19, 2024 10:38 pm IST - New Delhi

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge addresses a public meeting amid the party’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, in Amethi on February 19, 2024

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge addresses a public meeting amid the party’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, in Amethi on February 19, 2024 | Photo Credit: ANI

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge joined the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra on February 19 as it reached Rahul Gandhi’s former Lok Sabha constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh and recalled the close association of the Gandhi family with the people of Amethi and Rae Bareli.

But there is no indication yet if Mr. Gandhi or his sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, would contest from one of these seats, that have long been held by a member of the Gandhi family.

While Mr. Gandhi lost to BJP leader and Union Minister Smriti Z. Irani in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the Rae Bareli seat was held by his mother and Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

However, after filing her nomination for a Rajya Sabha seat from Rajasthan, Ms. Gandhi announced her decision not to contest the Lok Sabha election because of age and health concerns. She had been representing Rae Bareli for four consecutive terms since 2004 after vacating Amethi for her son.

“This is the place where Rajiv Gandhiji, Soniaji and Rahulji worked hard. You [voters of Amethi] share a deep relation with them [the Gandhi family],” said Mr. Kharge, addressing a public meeting at Amethi on Monday, without spelling out if any member of the Gandhi family would contest from these seats.

“Who will contest from Amethi is something that the CEC [Central Election Committee] will decide. Rahulji has been an MP from here thrice and fought four elections. His father had also represented this seat. So, from the Congress’s history, this is a very important seat,” Congress communication chief Jairam Ramesh said.

Since 1980, in 13 elections (including two bypolls), a non-Congress candidate had emerged victorious only twice (1998 and 2019) in Amethi, with the Gandhi family winning the seat nine times.

There is growing demand from Congress workers that Mr. Gandhi should contest from Amethi once again and his sister, Priyanka, should be fielded from Rae Bareli. In an open letter to the people of Rae Bareli, Ms. Gandhi had dropped a hint.

“After this decision [to not contest], I will not have the opportunity to serve you directly but my heart and soul will always remain with you. I know that you will stand by me and my family in future, just as you have in the past,” Ms. Gandhi had said in her letter.

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