Rahul to contest from Kerala, Priyanka hints at fighting Modi

Published April 1, 2019
India's Congress party President Rahul Gandhi greets his supporters during an election campaign rally in Bangalore, India on Sunday, March 31, 2019. — AP
India's Congress party President Rahul Gandhi greets his supporters during an election campaign rally in Bangalore, India on Sunday, March 31, 2019. — AP

NEW DELHI: Congress president Rahul Gandhi will contest from Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala as his second seat, the Congress party announced on Sunday.

Meanwhile, his sister Priyanka Gandhi has dropped casual hints that she is prepared to fight the elections from Varanasi if the party so desired.

Mr Gandhi was named the candidate from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh in the first Congress list released earlier March.

“We had conveyed to Rahul-ji that it would not have been correct to ignore the sentiments of the Congress workers from southern States,” said senior leader A. K. Antony who formally announced the decision.

The BJP, however, had targeted the Congress chief even before he took the decision of contesting from two seats. The ruling party alleged that Mr Gandhi was looking for a safe seat as he will lose the contest against Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani who is contesting from Amethi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had contested the 2014 elections from two seats and won from both.

He vacated the Gujarat seat and kept Varanasi Ms Irani had unsuccessfully contested from Amethi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the idea in fielding Mr Gandhi from Kerala is to send a message to Southern States that the Congress respects their culture, language and traditions and Mr Gandhi will act as a bridge between North India and South India.

The demand for Mr Gandhi to represent from a southern State was first raised by former Karnataka Chief Minister Sidddaramaiah.

Soon, Tamil Nadu and Kerala also made a similar demand for Mr Gandhi to represent their States. Asked if she would contest from her mother’s seat in Rae Bareli, Priyanka Gandhi had said why not from Varanasi, where Mr Modi is the candidate. She added that if her party wanted her to fight the elections, she would.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2019

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