Rahul Gandhi to retain Raebareli, Priyanka to make electoral debut in Wayanad

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra during a ceremony to hand over the national flag to Uttar Pradesh (UP) Congress President Brijlal Khabri to start the UP leg of party's 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', in Ghaziabad, Tuesday, January 3, 2023. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: With just one day left before the deadline, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has chosen to retain the Raebareli constituency instead of Wayanad. The party has decided to field Priyanka Gandhi as its candidate in Wayanad instead.

The crucial decision was made at a meeting held at Congress party chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s residence. The two-week-deadline for making the choice following the announcement of the 2024 Lok Sabha poll results on June 4 ends on Tuesday.

"I have an emotional relationship with the people of Raebareli and Wayanad. I had a fantastic experience representing the people of Wayanad in Parliament for the past five years. I want everyone to know that Priyanka will contest the election from Wayanad. She will win the elections. I will also frequent the constituency. My doors are always open for the people of Wayanad," Rahul Gandhi said. He added that the people of Wayanad were getting two MPs to represent them in the Parliament. 

Meanwhile, Priyanka Gandhi said that she was happy to be able to contest the elections and represent Wayanad. "I will not let the people of Wayanad feel his (Rahul Gandhi's) absence. My association with Raebareli and Amethi is a long one. I'll continue my work there," Priyanka said. She added that she was not nervous about her electoral debut.
Read: Who is Priyanka Gandhi, Congress candidate for Wayanad Lok Sabha bypoll?

As per the Representation of the People Act, a candidate is allowed to contest from two Lok Sabha seats but can hold only one at a time. The candidate has two weeks from the date of declaration of results to vacate one of the seats.

Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and AICC general secretary KC Venugopal participated in the meeting, convened at Kharge’s residence in New Delhi at 5 pm. The party is expected to declare their decision officially today or after informing the Election Commission on Tuesday.

Raebareli is a prestigious seat and a long-standing stronghold of the Congress bloc in Uttar Pradesh. The Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee had urged Rahul to represent the seat. 

During a public address in Malappuram on June 12, Rahul said he was in dilemma as to which constituency he should relinquish. He said that whatever decision he takes, both constituencies will be happy with it.

BJP, CPI slam Congress
The BJP on Monday slammed the Congress accusing it of indulging in "dynastic politics" after party leader Rahul Gandhi decided to retain the Raebareli Lok Sabha seat and vacate Wayanad in Kerala for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to contest the by-elections from the seat. "With Rahul Gandhi deciding to vacate the Wayanad seat and his sister to contest from there, it has become clear today that the Congress is not a political party but a company of the family," BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonwala charged. K Surendran, who had contested against Gandhi on the BJP's ticket from Wayanad, is expected to be fielded by the saffron party against Priyanka Gandhi in the bypoll.

CPI State Secretary Binoy Viswom also slammed the Congress party for deceiving the people of Wayanad. "It was not right to make Rahul Gandhi contest in Wayanad, a seat where BJP was sure to lose. This shows that the Congress party lacks long-term vision. They should remember that Congress and CPI are both members of the INDIA bloc," he said adding that the CPI would contest from Wayanad in the bypolls. CPI's Annie Raja, who had contested for LDF against Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad, was defeted by 3.64 lakh votes.

In 2019, Gandhi had contested from Amethi and Wayanad but lost the north Indian constituency to BJP's Smriti Irani, and won from Wayanad by a huge margin. In 2024, the Congress leader contested from Raebareli and Wayanad and won both seats with a huge margin of over three lakh votes. In Wayanad, however, the victory margin was smaller than what it was in 2019.

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