Rahul does not rule out contesting from second seat

Rahul does not rule out contesting from second seat
Rahul Gandhi's statements came in the wake of intense speculation about his candidature from Kerala's Wayanad constituency. PTI

New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi has not ruled out contesting the Lok Sabha election from a constituency other than Amethi, saying many party leaders have fought elections from more than one seat in the past and a decision on the issue will be taken by the party soon.

Rahul's statements came in the wake of intense speculation about his candidature from Kerala's Wayanad constituency.

Referring to demands from party leaders that his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra should contest, Gandhi told PTI in an interview that she will have to take a call on whether to fight the polls or not.

Speculation about the newly appointed Congress general secretary contesting grew after she asked people in Varanasi on Thursday whether she should fight the polls from the temple town, the constituency from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek a re-election.

Amethi is his "karmabhoomi" (place where you are destined to work) and will remain so, Rahul Gandhi said, keeping his options open on fighting the election from a second seat amid demands from party units in Kerala and Karnataka that he should be fielded from their states.

"I am deeply grateful for the love, affection and the sentiments expressed by our party workers in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala who have asked me to contest a second seat from their states," the Congress chief told PTI in response to a question on the speculation over him contesting from Wayanad in Kerala.

Wayanad Lok Sabha Constituency | Elections 2019
Assembly segments in Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency.

"In the past, too, many leaders from the Congress and other parties, including Mr Modi himself, have contested elections from more than one seat. The Congress party will take a decision on this issue at the earliest," he said.

In 2014, Rahul Gandhi defeated BJP's Smriti Irani by a margin of over one lakh votes. Both are pitted against each other again from Amethi.

Former Kerala chief minister and AICC general secretary Oommen Chandy, had last Saturday said the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee had requested Gandhi to contest from Wayanad apart from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

Chandy, who was among the first to talk about Rahul Gnadhi's candidature from Kerala, later played down the matter saying that he never conclusively stated that the Congress president will contest from Kerala.

The party, which is contesting 16 out of 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala, announced the names of 14 candidates but has not declared its candidates from Wayanad and Vadakara. Congress state units in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have also demanded that the party president should contest the Lok Sabha elections from their respective states.

Wayanad Lok Sabha Constituency

Asked about Priyanka Gandhi contesting the election, the Congress chief said candidate selection is an ongoing process and the party has announced over 300 candidates so far.

"As far as Priyanka is concerned, it is up to her to decide if she wants to contest the election or not," he said.

Rahul does not rule out contesting from second seat
Senior Congress leaders VM Sudheeran and Oommen Chandy with Rahul gandhi.

On whether party veterans will be fielded by the Congress to put up a strong fight, Gandhi said the party has a system of identifying candidates and it goes through various processes.

"I have looked at young as well as experienced candidates equally because I have believed that Congress party needs both. Seniors are fighting elections. We also have many new faces who will be fighting their first election," he said.

There has been a clamour among Congress leaders from the south for Rahul Gandhi to contest from Kerala as well as Karnataka and the state units have already passed resolutions on the issue.

His mother, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, earlier contested from the Bellary Lok Sabha seat in Karnataka while his grandmother, former prime minister Indira Gandhi, had contested from Chikamangalur in Karnataka.

The process of nominations in Kerala, which goes to the polls on April 23, started on Thursday and will end on April 4.

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