Congress ranks want senior leaders to contest Lok Sabha Polls

They want to make up for the party’s performance in the nine northern States in 2019, where it got only 12 of the 184 seats

February 06, 2024 10:01 pm | Updated 10:01 pm IST - New Delhi

Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. File

Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. File | Photo Credit: ANI

With the Lok Sabha elections around the corner, there is growing pressure from the Congress ranks egging the senior leaders, including the two former Chief Ministers Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel, to lead from the front by contesting the polls.

In 2019, the Congress won 52 seats across the country, However, out of the 184 seats in the nine northern States — Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, it got only 12 seats.

According to sources, at a recent meeting of the party functionaries in Rajasthan, former speaker C.P. Joshi exhorted all the senior leaders, including former Chief Minister and party State president Govind Singh Dotasra, to contest. “Last time, Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav contested from Jodhpur and lost the seat by a margin of 2.74 lakh votes. Instead of the son, we would like the father to contest, so that we can wipe out the ignominy of not winning a single seat in two consecutive general elections,” a Congress Parliamentarian from Rajasthan said. However, Mr. Gehlot has been keeping the cards close to his chest.

In Chhattisgarh, there is a similar demand, that former Chief Minister Mr. Baghel should contest, so that the party can improve upon its 2019 tally. But Mr. Baghel, according to sources, is not amenable to the idea, arguing that contesting Lok Sabha polls will pin him down to a single seat and prevent him from campaigning for the party in the State and across the country. “Unless and until there is pressure from Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge or Mr. Rahul Gandhi, it is unlikely that he will change his mind,” a source close to Mr. Baghel said.

In Haryana, Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Hooda is bracing for the Lok Sabha elections from Rohtak which he represented thrice and in 2019 lost by a margin of 7,500 votes. However, there has been no official announcement so far.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party, which has so far conceded 11 seats, has made it clear to the Congress that if it fields “serious” candidates prodding the party to field senior leaders, it could consider increasing their share.

In Himachal Pradesh, the party is trying to convince its Cabinet Ministers to contest the polls. Meanwhile, amidst the speculation that Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi will retire from Lok Sabha and choose to enter Parliament via Rajya Sabha, Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy has requested that she fight the Lok Sabha from the State.

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